Countdown, part one

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Wensleydale on September 19th, 2014

SIX bobbins of Wensleydale. One may turn out to be slightly different to the others because my sample card went walkabout for a couple of days. I’m not all that worried, these are going to become a four ply yarn so hopefully the difference in one ply won’t be all that noticeable. I’m going to start plying now, I decided that six bobbins would be the perfect number to kick off a four ply yarn. The first skein will leave me with four part bobbins, the second one will be made from the two full bobbins and the four part ones left from the first skein. There will be a significant amount left over but that’s fine because two skeins isn’t going to be enough for a sweater.

FIVE – buttons on the cardigan. I bought the first set of buttons while the knitting and I were on holiday. In my mind they were perfect but I don’t know whether this is true because they never got near the cardigan. I’ve worked out how I came to lose them, they were in a small paper bag in my handbag for weeks before they mysteriously vanished. I remember sitting with a coffee and clearing out all the shipping receipts, shopping lists and till receipts that I stuff in my handbag. It’s more than likely that the small paper bag went in the bin with the rest of the rubbish. I’m now at the stage where I want this finished (because last week I met a baby that it could be given to) so the button tin that originally had nothing suitable now has something that meets my newly lowered standards. I understand that not-matching-on-purpose is a thing these days. The pattern is Butterfly Net, it’s knitted bottom up in one piece with the sleeves picked up and knitted down. It would be a good use of leftover bits of sock yarn because the overlay would make the background stripes less prominent. I thought I’d be knitting one after the other but one was quite enough.

FOUR – socks from the sock blank. Yes I know I’m stretching it a bit here with the numbering but I have a theme and I’m running with it. I don’t have four of anything else but I do have four finished socks. That’s not quite true, it seems that I have a lot of buttons in fours which is telling me that I should stop making buttonholes in fives. It would have been simple to start at the top of the blank and knit until all the socks were done. I didn’t do that because of the sunset in the middle, the second sock would have been very much more yellow than the first. My second sock was knitted from the other end of the blank so both missed the sun. This was a good idea, bonus marks to me for thinking ahead and planning, except that I then went on to make the second pair exactly the same as the first pair so really I needn’t have bothered. I probably could have knitted as it came and paired socks one and four together. The leftover sunny yarn will go into another pair of school socks when I feel like it, for the moment I’m done with black topped socks. We’re entering the season of grim, grey days and I don’t appreciate spending dark evenings trying to count rows on a black sock.

Do I have a three, two, one? Not yet but I’m working on it. I’m sure by next week I’ll have something that I can force to fit the theme.



Piles of grey

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Wensleydale on August 25th, 2014

I put the Wensleydale away before we left on holiday but before that I had grey wool piled up in various formats. The first stage pile is a messy one resulting from me pulling individual locks from the mass of wool and opening them up. The fleece was muddy and two soaks, two washes and a rinse wasn’t enough to get all the grot out. If I don’t open up the locks I need another combing step and that means more waste. It’s easier to open them up by hand using paper to catch the fine dust that falls out. When the pile threatens to topple over I put the bag of washed wool away and get the combs out. What comes off the combs is lengths of smooth roving with no sign of the original lock structure, all ready to spin. I’m putting those in a wicker basket (lined with a silk scarf to eliminate snagging) and when that pile starts fighting its way out of the basket I spin it. There is exactly the same amount of wool in the photo on the right as in the photo on the left, all of that big pile of fluff went onto one bobbin. So far I have four bobbins full of single, enough to start plying but I’m not going to do that until I have another three bobbins full. This is not going to be a quick project, the majority of my time is spent in fibre preparation, the spinning and plying are the last stages of a time consuming process.

The other fibre that comes off the combs is made up of shorter wool together with any tips that have broken off the locks and any second cuts. This is the combing waste although it’s only waste if you don’t use it. I’m throwing it into a carrier bag and then in the evening I sit and spin it into something thick/thin and lumpy. In the morning I chain ply it and by the evening the yarn is dry and there’s just enough to knit what looks like a small hat. Once it’s had a vicious hot/cold wash the lumps and bumps all vanish into the thick fabric. I want five of these little bowls, one for each weekday. The husband needs cash each day for the station car park but as a household we use plastic more than cash and so don’t generate many coins. We’ve had little piles of change lined up on the kitchen counter but they get knocked over so I’m moving to the five pot system. After that there will be a matching but larger pot to organise the free range rechargeable batteries that have multiplied and are running out of control across the breakfast bar. Only then will I be generating proper combing waste or maybe slippers, depending on how the mood takes me.

I don’t have a pattern lined up for the yarn, I’m not even sure yet whether I’ll be making a cardigan or a sweater. I have plenty of time to consider my options because I worked out that there’s about four hours work in a bobbin of single which means that there’s about 48 hours more work before I have enough yarn for a sweater.



TdF week three, return to Wensleydale

Posted by Caroline in Spinning, Wensleydale on July 23rd, 2014

Last week I combed the last of the Oxford Down and said that I had no fleece in the garage. At the time that was correct but it isn’t now.  This is Wensleydale, the left hand side is the original chocolate colour, the top right corner is what it will end up as when washed. It’s seasonally hot this week so a good time for wool washing because it dries quickly. I’m still working out the best washing strategy, my first batch had a cold overnight soak, one hot wash and two rinses but that produced a finished product that was still too sheepy. My second batch had a cold overnight soak, two hot washes and two rinses and that resulted in acceptable fibre but I’m going to see if a second cold soak will substitute for one of the later steps. The reason for this is that I have two big water butts full of rainwater that I can run off for soaking and the resulting bucket of very brown water can then go on the border plants. It seems a shame to use lovely drinking water for washing wool and then pull the plug and have it vanish down the drain. This is going to be a long term project and I can guarantee that the blog will be seeing it again at different stages.

The Tour de France is still on and I’m still spinning. I’m now on the third bobbin of what will be a three ply yarn, the last bobbin looks remarkably like the other two which is something that pleases me greatly. The bobbin on the left has more of the burgundy, the right one has more of the green and the third has equal amounts of both. It’s superwash bfl and nylon so will be good for baby things or socks, should it meet my exacting quality control standards it will end up as shop stock but if it’s “too” something then it will have to stay at home. Oh dear, what a shame that would be.

I had a trip out on Monday to deliver the heir to his first summer music course, had I taken a photo it would have been identical to the one I took last year so let’s just run with that. He’s at the same venue, assigned to the same room and he bagged the same bed. This year I had no worries about turning him loose with his peers, last year the pastoral care was excellent, the accommodation was good, the food was good, he enjoyed himself and he wasn’t out of his depth musically. Habits are hard to break, it’s day three and I’m watching for the school bus going past in the afternoon and walking about at night as if he’s in his bed.

 

 



The wheel turns (TdF week two)

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, Weaving on July 18th, 2014

Well I’m still keeping up with the Tour De Fleece in that I’ve spun every day apart from rest day. I may not have spun for very long but I’ve added something to a bobbin every day. The pink is Southdown in “dyer’s mistake” which I like as yarn. The white is all there is of the Oxford Down. Last week there was a huge pile of it and I genuinely believed that there was at least 200g there. No, I didn’t go as far as to actually weigh it and yes, I do know that a pile of fluff is mostly air. When I started combing it last summer I pulled out the 4″ locks and I’ve continued cherry picking it on and off through the year. The result was that the remainder was barely long enough to comb and the waste was much higher than with the first batches. I’ve ended up with about 100g of three ply sock yarn which is good enough. As it turned out this was the last fleece in the garage, the other two bags in there turned out to contain combed top. I may have only got enough yarn for a pair of socks but the result is three bags out of the garage. That must mean that it’s time to buy another fleece…

As I anticipated, the first half of the threading took me a week and the second half took no time at all. I’m positive that I’ve been careful and threaded this perfectly with no mistakes but then I think that every time. It’s always such a disappointment to tie on and find out how wrong I was. That will be next week’s treat, I’ll have time to sort out the mistakes with the extra hour I’ll gain each morning. Next week I don’t have to make breakfast, hunt for missing items (this morning it was the bus pass that had gone walkabout) and check that junior has checked that he has everything ready for school. We haven’t quite broken up yet for the summer, school is open for another three days next week but junior is away on a residential music course for all five. I will miss him and I’m sure that the washing machine will pine for him too.

On my to do list this week was “repot bamboo”. This one is a thug and has to be contained or else it would run and take over my garden and my neighbour’s too. Every few years I take it out of the pot, hack it in half and put it back again. Last time I had to call in a husband with a saw, the pot had a fancy strip near the rim and the root had pushed out into the detailing and he had to cut the pot off to get it out. I can learn – this pot has a flat internal face and so I got the bamboo out without any trouble. I knew there were ants in the pot but I didn’t realise the extent to which they had taken over. It’s bad enough trying to cut the roots in half without having hordes of ants running up your limbs while you’re doing it. It’s raining now with more forecast for tomorrow and I’m hoping that will persuade them to move elsewhere.

 



TdF week 1

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, Weaving on July 10th, 2014

Last week I said that I was done with socks but clearly I’m not. The last pair have been finished, initialled with duplicate stitch and released into the wild and I started another pair just as soon as this yarn was dry.  I checked and the new ones aren’t the ones that are in the dog basket (don’t ask me why there were socks in the dog basket, I was just pleased that they were a pair) so they could be anywhere. The new ones will be husband socks, he doesn’t have to wear uniform quite as often as the school child so can have colour all the way to the cuff. I usually avoid white in socks because I find that it picks up stray colour in the wash and over time turns to a murky grey but if I need to I can always dye them at some point in the future. I still believe that all colour challenges can be solved with either navy, red or brown dye and with this pair the cure would be navy.

This is my Tour de Fleece spinning for days one to five, it’s pretty underwhelming but although I undertook to spin every day I never said how long for. This is Southdown, probably, and it is a shop reject because I intended it to be a more interesting range of colours. The Tour related project that I have put most time into was the weaving because I added yards to that during Le Tour de Yorkshire. I can’t remember the last time I watched so much television in one day and then I did it all again the next day too. It was a five yard warp, I’ve not measured the final length but I’m certain that there will be enough for whatever I want to do with it. It’s turned a bag full of random handspun into something I can work with although it’s not at all what I set out to make because the bag of random handspun really needed to be twice the size.

Progress here is measured in inches rather than yards, I know from experience that I drag myself across the first half of the warp and then the second half zips along. Threading is not difficult, it doesn’t take as long as I think it does but I find it to be so monumentally boring that I want to run away just as soon as I’ve started. I have started, that’s something at least, but I’m not promising that it will be finished before the next time I post. I can always find something else that needs to be done, even the ironing is more interesting than threading the loom. My target is two inches a day, every day which is nothing at all really but just as much as I can stand.

One of those other things that needs to be done is combing the bag of fleece that I took out of the garage. This is my next TdF spinning project, it’s Oxford Down and I promised a pair of socks out of it. I’m not sure how much there is left but there’s certainly enough for a pair of socks, possibly even three pairs. I’m going to comb until the bag is empty, spin enough for one pair of socks and then take a decision on the rest. Whatever I do with it only the empty bag will be going back into the garage.

Next week is the last week of school and then after that it will be my annual wool week. This year is even more exciting because it’s not going to be wool week but wool fortnight. The first week I’ll be excused from all parenting duties as the child is going away and the second week I’ll be excused all meals because both males will be out of the house for twelve hours a day. Will I have enough wool to see me through?  Watch this space.

 



Busy, busy, busy

Posted by Caroline in Book making, Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on May 7th, 2014

I’m happy now that the sleeves will be the right width, there’s only one here blocking because I was so uncertain that I put one sleeve aside until I’d seen the other one finished. I think that they will be too long, I did use a tape measure but it’s difficult to decide how long something is while you’re pulling it sideways at the same time. I’m not bothered about the length right now, I’m just happy about the width. Once I have the sleeves set in then I can work out how many rows I need to take from the length, snip a stitch, separate the sleeve into two, take out the right number of rows plus one and then graft the two bits back together again. I haven’t yet cast on for the body as that involves the major stumbling block of finding a long circular in the right size. It’s a two minute job that’s taking me days to do.

The socks finished up the right size but then I knew that they would. There’s not a lot that can go wrong with socks. These have a 2×2 ribbed cuff with two of the lines of ribbing continuing to the toe. The blue was leftover from the Baby Sirdal that I finished recently and the greens are miscellaneous leftovers from the bag of sock yarn scraps. I can’t say that these had a big impact on the leftovers, I think I’ve got enough yarn left to make another pair. I’ve already promised that the next pair will be school socks so these leftovers will all going back in the bag for now.

Last week I spent an hour or so chasing wool around the spare bedroom. After I’d finished packing things into boxes, moving yarn and fabric into a pile to be dyed and throwing random bits away the floor appeared. This is my reward for tidying up, it fell out of the shop box. I originally dyed three lengths of the plum and chocolate (right) so I could afford to sneak one for myself and the orange and pink was really too bright to sell (yes, these do sound like excuses for a shop raid and that’s because that’s what they are). I couldn’t decide whether to ply them together or on themselves so I did both to make a bright yarn, a dark yarn and something in between. My plan was to use them for a wide warp on the rigid heddle loom and then use the leftovers together with a pile of random bits to wind another warp for the floor loom.

The first part of this idea went well but it fell down with the second warp when I ran short of yarn. “Short” in this context means that I only have half of what I need so adding a few contrast stripes just won’t cut it. I think my public stance would be that I am considering my options, this translates to me bagging it up and sticking it in one of the wool boxes. I could go back and spin the other two dark braids, I could rummage through the boxes of wool in the hope of finding something that would work, I could make a narrower warp. I don’t know what to do so the answer is to do nothing.

Pro tip – don’t look at something, exclaim about the price and then utter the words “I could make one of those” because that’s what you’ll end up doing and all of your other plans will go straight out of the window. I have promised to make a book. I’ve played at this before but this attempt involves a learning curve so steep that the only way up it would involve a rocket. So far I’ve failed to make holes at right angles to the paper which is why those black lines are not even beginning to be parallel. I’m telling myself that the worst that can happen is that I make a total bodge of the first book and hopefully in the process learn enough to make the second one presentable. I have a fallback position of making a bodge of the first three and hitting it with the fourth. This morning the postman failed to bring me the faux leather for the covers, I’ve never been so pleased to not get post because it gives me another day to work out what I am supposed to do next. Remember Caroline, next time try to stick to a nice non-committal “that’s nice dear”.



Sort of a sweater start

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on April 29th, 2014

I finished with all of the dark Shetland, I have about 1100 yards of a thinnish aran yarn which is probably enough for a long sleeved sweater. It’s very nice even though it is still full of straw but its time has not yet come so I’ve packed it away for another day. I think that this would be classed as a decent enough workout for my new Pony bead lacing spinning wheel drive band, I’ve used it for most of the spinning and all of the plying. I did wonder whether it would be up to the job of turning the jumbo flyer with a full bobbin of yarn but it coped well. The lacing was very stretchy for the first week and I had to keep shortening it but it did settle down after that. It is not happy with being loose, I’ve had the band flip off more times in this month than in the life of the wheel, but once I’d accepted it needed to be tighter than I was used to then it was fine. You can have sixteen Pony drive bands for the same price as one proper flexible spinning wheel drive band, I wouldn’t mind buying a proper band quite so much if the postage didn’t add a third to the cost.

This is either the start of a sweater or a failed swatch. I haven’t decided yet which it is but my inner knitter suspects the latter. I hate patterns that measure things when “slightly stretched” because how much is “slightly”? It’s usually the front bands of cardigans that start me ranting but this time I haven’t got that far because it’s the tension square that needed to be measured “slightly stretched”. I did knit a tension square (two actually) and I was happy that I had the right needles but the more I knitted, the more uncertain I became. I am capable enough of being self deluded over tension without the added complication of stretching. There is an answer, I have to knit a swatch of the cable pattern because that’s measured flat. I’ve been putting off doing that because then I’ll be certain that these sleeves are doomed, at the moment they might be perfectly fine.

Luckily I have some other knitting that is not being difficult. Socks are usually my answer to avoiding dealing with knitting problems. These are the leftovers from baby Sirdal together with some odds and ends from the bag of green leftover sock yarn. When I set off I thought this would be mostly blue with some green but there was some engaging television on and I overran with the greens because I knitted to the end of the ball. There is a fair chance that these will have reached the toes before I grasp the nettle and swatch the cable pattern on the sweater because it’s easier to reach out and start knitting than it is to sit and problem solve.

I think I’ve got the hang of the box bag construction, I changed the sizing, narrowed and lengthened the handle and ended up with a pair of nicely sized project bags. I’m done with green for now but I’m going to poke through the heap of fabric and see what else I can come up with. I like the size of these, I don’t have a totally free hand with sizing being constrained by the length of the zip that I bought and the width of the fabric that I made. I could buy smaller zips and make the bags not as long but if I change the circumference then I would be cutting fabric to waste. The Etsy widget has fallen out of the sidebar (it’s probably down the back of the settee), I do still have a shop there and that’s where the bags are going.



Dredging through the knitting bag

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on April 14th, 2014

It’s such a little thing but it feels as if I have been knitting it forever. Guess what, I HAVE been knitting it forever. The blog remembers these things so I don’t have to and it tells me that the first sighting of baby Sirdal was on January 17th. The body knitted up quickly enough but when I got to the start of the second pattern band (about armhole level) I realised I’d made a mistake right at the bottom and that put me off the whole thing. I had a choice between ripping it back and starting again or ignoring it and hoping I could sort it out in the finishing and it spent weeks in the bag while I decided what I was going to do. The thing I like most about this is that it’s finally finished the yarn and the buttons, I liked the buttons so much that I went back and bought the other ten to go with the three that I would have leftover from this. I don’t know what I’ll do with thirteen buttons but there’s a lot more options than with just three.

The pattern is Sirdal, a Dale of Norway pattern available as a download from Patternfish. I wanted the baby size but was surprised to find that the pattern covered all sizes from baby through to adult. This is the first thing I’ve made with steeks, it was knitted as a tube and cut up the front and then the sides sliced to open up for the sleeves. That was straightforward enough and I’d not hesitate to do that again. It was the front steek that tripped me up, when I set off I decided that five stitches sounded narrow and seven would be better so I cast on an extra two. If I’d written that down or remembered it then I would have been fine but I did neither and then when I lost a stitch marker I incorporated them into the pattern.

These are the first buttoned cuffs I’ve ever knitted. As I was knitting them I didn’t like the flare that comes from changing to larger needles and increasing at the same time but now they are blocked it looks right. Knitting cuffs is less messing about than sewing cuffs on a shirt because there’s no raw edge to deal with but it is considerably more messing about than not having buttons at all. The start of the cuff is knitted flat (obviously because if it were joined together it wouldn’t need a button) and that means having single rows of colour before it’s joined in the round. I tried to get fancy to avoid the ends that come from single row colour changes by using a circular needle and working from whichever end had the right colour. To be honest I think I’d have been quicker just cutting the yarn.

I would knit it again, it looks lovely and it wasn’t as much work as you’d think from looking at the time it’s taken me. Most of the time it’s been on the needles I’ve not been knitting it because I couldn’t decide what to do with my two stitch mistake at the front edge. The blue and white is a classic combination and I like the subtle variation in the darker yarn. As I said in another post I don’t like the thickness of the front bands, two layers of double thick ribbing is too much on something this size. It makes for a soft collar though, there’s no hard edge that will rub under a chubby chin. I didn’t like having to change the pattern at the sides, I’d much rather work with a pattern that fitted into the stitch count so that it flowed all the way around. I also couldn’t fathom the concept of the pattern repeating around a central stitch on the sleeves when there was an even number of stitches.

I didn’t say whether I ripped back and fixed my mistake or lived with it. Looking at the first photo I can tell, you knitter-people would probably tell if you could see it closer but the general baby-dressing populace will see blue! white! buttons! and the man on the galloping horse doesn’t stand a chance.

I am ripping these although I’ve not made a mistake in the pattern. My mistake was in the yarn choice, it’s sock yarn and although it’s bang on gauge it’s making a fabric that is too loose for my liking. These are the Etude mitts, or rather that’s what this would become if I kept on knitting. This has been sitting in the bottom of the knitting bag for over a month and the fabric has not improved at all during that time. I’m ready for starting something new so it’s time for the non-starters to move along back to yarn. The socks can stay though, the end is in sight and there’s nothing wrong with them except for the length of the foot. I can’t believe that child socks have become the longest socks that I knit, at fourteen he’s now wearing a size nine and a half shoe (Eur 44, US 10). I add an extra half an inch to the heel flap because he has a high arch and with this pair that meant that I ran out of black yarn before I finished the gusset decreases. Next time I need to shorten the cuff or I risk having colour showing above the shoe which would never do as these are pretending to be plain black socks to be worn with plain black shoes, plain black trousers and a black blazer. The socks are the only thing I have on the needles and as I’m an inch from starting the toe shaping they should be finished very soon. They will be the second thing that I pick up as soon as I press “publish” on this, the first one being a cup of tea.



More of the same

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on April 10th, 2014

I didn’t fill all my bobbins before I started to ply, I knew I wouldn’t because I can never wait to see the yarn but as it was the weather provided me with a convenient excuse to start plying. The forecast was for a warm sunny day with a bit of a breeze which promised to be ideal wool drying weather and it seemed a shame to not take full advantage of it. I had six bobbins of single at that point which gave me two big skeins and lots left over. I’m aiming to spin a bobbin a day so I’ll be plying again at the weekend. I thought I’d be looking at twelve bobbins full and that looks about right because two bags of wool filled six bobbins with a bit left over. I’m still not sure whether I’ll have enough yardage for a sweater, it will be close and I may have to consider stripes as a necessity design element.

The warm breezy weather made me get on with dyeing the yarn previously known as Rogue. There’s a strand of the original colour on the bottom left, you can see that it’s still grey but darker than it was. I was aiming for more of a brown/grey but the brown dye that I put in seems to have vanished without trace. It’s reasonably even in colour, three of the skeins are a little darker than the majority and two are a little lighter so providing that I alternate knitting from two balls at a time and keep the dark and light away from each other it should work out well enough. I know that it doesn’t look terribly exciting yarn but I’m thinking of knitting something with cables and I don’t want an interesting yarn that’s going to fight with a pattern. In this case plain, even and boring will do me just fine.

No, I am not recycling pictures, if you look closer you will see that this one has the buttons actually sewn on rather than being artfully posed on top of the knitting. I had hoped to be showing you a finished Sirdal, earlier today I thought that this was totally reasonable seeing as I thought I had only had two buttons to sew on. Then there were the two buttons on the cuffs, a cuff facing to sew up, a bit more sewing on the cuffs, some ends to weave in so even without adding blocking to the list it’s never going to be finished today. I’ve got all the buttonholes done despite me not liking the front bands at at all. They are double thickness ribbing like the collar and that may work perfectly well on a bigger garment but I think it’s just too bulky on a garment this size. Ribbing makes a thick fabric anyway and there are four layers there underneath the buttons. If I were to make this again I’d be tempted to make a band and facing combo rather like that on the top of the sleeve with the bands single thickness and backed with ribbon. It’s too late to be fussing with it now, I’m finished with it and thinking about what comes next.

I like to look back through the archives and see what I was doing in this month in previous years. Last spring was all about yeast and bread and my mission to ditch the floppy white sliced loaf much loved by the junior household member. I succeeded with that, over the year I’ve settled to a pattern of baking brown loaves, white breadcakes (baps, rolls or alternate regional word of choice) and sesame topped bagels. It’s plain, even and boring bread and like the plain,even and boring yarn it means that it’s easy to use. The croissants, brioche and chocolate products all fell by the wayside because it’s much easier to bake bread and add chocolate hazelnut and cocoa spread to it if I’m feeling indulgent. I have a drawer in the freezer that just holds frozen bread products, we don’t run out and they are as good as fresh if you microwave them for a few seconds. They come out the same every week because when I finished experimenting with weight of dough, percentage hydration and oven temperature I wrote down what I did so now all I have to do is follow the pattern. There’s a novelty, me following a pattern.

 



Downhill to the very long weekend

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, sweaters on April 6th, 2014

We’re racing towards a two week Easter break. It can’t come too quickly for me, it’s been an interesting few weeks at school and the child has been here, there and everywhere. I have nightmares about not keeping on top of the changes in the school day and not being there to pick him up from wherever at whenever. I need either a return to the normal boring timetable or a break from it altogether. As the school holidays are just around the corner that means that it’s the end of Saturday morning music school for a few weeks. This week I managed to get both sleeves sewn in and the facings sewn down, I would have made a better job of it had I thought to take scissors, the slit I’d cut for the sleeve could have done with being a fraction longer and pins would have helped too. The whole point about music centre knitting is that it avoids procrastination, I have to stick with what I take with me because there is no alternative so I finish it rather than waiting for later when I might be able to do it better (or more likely, not at all). I like the finish of the facing, when you get to the top of the sleeve you end with a few rows of reverse stockinette. You sew the last stockinette row to the body, leaving the purl bit to fall to the inside of the seam. When you’ve finished sewing the sleeve seam you turn to the inside and sew the top of the sleeve over the cut edge of the body. Yes, action shots would have been nice but my camera doesn’t go with me on Saturday mornings.

I still have the buttonhole band to pick up and knit but as that is knitting rather than sewing there’s a chance that it might get done, especially as the second set of buttons look more or less exactly as I’d wanted. I thought that they might be too big but they fit the buttonholes on the sleeve cuff which are the only ones that I have at the moment. I bought them by the simple route of going to Etsy and searching for metal buttons from sellers in the UK. These are old buttons, they are much heavier than anything I’ve bought recently and even including the postage they were about the same price as the rather naff ones that I bought locally. I liked them so much that I went back and bought the second set that the vendor had for sale.

I’m on my fourth bobbin of Shetland, I spent an hour plying up random leftovers to free up all of my bobbins so I have no excuse for not filling them all before I start to ply. (I’m sure I can come up with an excuse if I want one) I replaced the dodgy drivebelt with Pony bead lacing as I couldn’t bring myself to pay £10 for a piece of plastic. I’ll hold off telling the world what I think about it until I’ve made my mind up, the lime green bits are what I’ve cut out of it this week. It’s nice and grippy but at the moment it’s too stretchy, I’m hoping that it will find its happy place and find a length that it’s comfortable at. It’s going to have plenty of time to sort itself out as I think there’s enough wool to fill twelve bobbins (not that I have twelve even now I’ve pulled all of them together)

The shirt is finished, washed, ironed and in the wardrobe. I don’t remember ever making a cuff but it looks like a small waistband and I’ve done those before. The buttonholes were straightforward enough as I did all the learning with the last shirt, this time I marked where the machine foot needed to be rather than where the hole needed to be because the edge of the foot is visible while the fabric under it isn’t. Sleeve plackets were new to me, on this pattern there’s only a placket on one side and the other side is finished with a small hem. The instructions have you reinforce the button with some spare fabric on the back because otherwise you’re sewing it onto a single thickness of fabric. Another time I think I’d make a placket on both sides as this is what all the other shirts in his wardrobe have. According to multiple sewing blogs this is easy enough to do as you start with rectangles of fabric so the lack of a pattern piece isn’t a problem. I have promised another shirt, not white thankfully, so I will have something to experiment with.

What I could do with this week is a good drying day as I’d like to dye this little lot. This is a sweater’s worth of aran wool that’s been lurking in the bottom of my wardrobe for a while. It’s been pretending to be a sweater but as I haven’t worn it since I finished Celtic Dreams it wasn’t so much a sweater as a waste of space. This was previously Rogue, I didn’t wear it as much as I thought I would because of the hood. I couldn’t wear it under a coat which meant a change of sweater when I stepped out of the door. When you know you’ll be out on the end of a lead at least three times in the day then it makes more sense to put on a sweater that works with a coat. The lack of wear means that the yarn is in good condition, no felting at the cuff, very few bobbles, so it would be a shame to waste it. I’m going to dye it a less plain colour and reknit it for my mother as she’s a smaller size and does wear sweaters, unlike my son who sticks them in the wardrobe and ignores them.

It’s seven years since I knitted Rogue, doesn’t time fly?