Roarbark

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on July 14th, 2015

I’m popping in while I have a cup of tea, this is my break between phases three and four of tidying up in the spare bedroom. It’s needed doing for months but I really want to be able to get to the sewing cabinet so now is the right time. It’s coming up to the time of year when I have a week with no cooking and where the house stays tidy, where I’m nearly home alone all week. It would be a shame to have so much free time and not be able to use it to best advantage. The dog is happy with my progress, when I pulled the cabinet away from the wall to pick up all the many things that had fallen behind it I found what I remember as a puffalasauraus. It was one of my son’s toys some fourteen years ago. The dog is exactly the right age to enjoy it, it took him a while to find out how to make it roar but since then there has been nonstop roaring and barking. The lolling tongue indicates that he’s been working hard on subduing the dinosaur, at some point this afternoon I’ll confiscate it and he’ll collapse from exhaustion.

What have I been up to since I posted last? I drove Master WFB to an audition and out of desperation pulled off my best parking performance in years. It’s amazing what you can do when time and parking spaces are short, needs must when the devil drives (and parks). The results of the audition are not until mid December which is too long to be distracted with a diverting project (like last time) so I’m aiming to go with plan B which is to ignore it altogether. We also had a surprise! invitation which means he’s missing the last four days of school to go on a residential music course next week. The camera card reports that I have finished a pair of socks and made another bow tie. This one matched my son’s purple jacket, it’s a perfect match because I made it out of the trousers that I dyed at the same time as the jacket (really, it does match even though the two set of photos would say otherwise). It’s like the other one I made in that it’s hand tied (rather than folded and sewn) but opens at the back with a hook and eye and there’s a slider to make it adjustable. The socks are made from leftover sock yarn, there were still a lot of leftovers leftover so I immediately cast on for another pair. They will also be having an orange stripe because why not? He complained that he ended the day with striped feet but seeing as I didn’t dye any of the yarns in these I didn’t feel in the slightest bit guilty.

Duty calls, my next job is to sweep the floor now that I’ve uncovered it then there will be some packing away of wool, folding of fabric and admiring of progress. Next time I’ll probably be looking at What I Found In The Wardrobe (circa 1994)

 

 



Good from a distance

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on June 23rd, 2015

I decided that the time was right for making that tree skirt that I never get around to making. One of the reasons that I’ve been putting it off for so long was that I needed to enlarge the pattern which is easy with squares and more of a challenge with diamonds. I suspected that it might need the use of GCSE trigonometry and I was right. Fortunately I have an occasional GCSE maths revision session when I have to attempt to explain the trickier questions of junior’s homework so it wasn’t as challenging as it would otherwise have been. I scaled up the pattern, dredged out the scrap boxes and then lurgy struck. All I wanted to do was to cough, sneeze and moan about my sore throat but when the dining table looks like the photo on the left then stopping is not really an option. I made some really stupid mistakes when I was feeling rough, including cutting off the piece I’d just sewn on, sewing wrong sides together and not making an allowance for a seam. It took far longer than it should have done and there was much unpicking and muttering.

The wrapping on the presents is made from leftovers from the scrap box pieced onto a foundation of paper, I mostly used the offcuts from the Pokemon quilt I made in 2006 (there’s a photo at the bottom of this post) with a few other random bits as the mood took me. I pulled out two possible whites for the background but when I looked at them I didn’t think that I had enough of either to make eight blocks so I decided not to risk it but to make four blocks from each of the white fabrics. I am not at home to Mr CloseUp today because I absentmindedly took the paper off the first set of boxes before I’d sewn the background fabric to the sides. Without the paper to stabilise them the bias edges run amuck and the first four boxes are bigger than they should have been. The second four boxes are smaller than they should have been as I managed to allow for a seam allowance on only two sides rather than four. I think I’ll get away with it because of the sashing, in addition anyone wanting to have a closer look is going to have to get on their hands and knees and do battle with the lowest branches of the Christmas tree. It needs quilting but for that I need the sewing machine to be in the cabinet which means I need to tidy up. It’s only June, there’s plenty of time yet.

This is the second pair of child socks, it wasn’t until I came to take the photo that I realised that I’d managed a perfect match without trying. I was going to keep them for when I needed a bribe but he smiled and asked nicely so I handed them over and off they went to school. Note to self – do not leave potential gift socks in plain sight. The leftovers have gone straight into another pair, they are the third stripe from the cast on in this weirdly coloured photo. These are a pair of scrap striped socks, I’m knitting both at once because I’m expecting to run out of yarn multiple times. When a ball gets really small I’ll rewind it into a centre pull ball and knit from both ends  so it will end in the same place in both socks. There may be a random orange stripe once I’m past the heel, I haven’t quite decided yet. What usually happens when I’m using scraps in a project like this is that I pull out lots of little balls of sock yarn and then when I’ve finished I find that there are enough leftover leftovers to make another. In my dreams it makes a big dint in the pile, the reality is a different thing.

These trees don’t look all that significant but they are to me (in case anyone is wondering, yes, they do have a seam allowance on all four sides). Back in 1998 I joined in a round robin swap and when the box of blocks and fabric came back from its world tour I didn’t really know how to tackle it. I could add as many blocks as I wanted and make it whatever size I wanted, seeing as I didn’t have a clue what it was that I wanted I packed it away for another day. I now know exactly what I want, I’ve worked out that I need to make five blocks and these are four of them.

(Elizabeth – if you’re reading this, brace yourself for the sight of your sixteen year old blocks)



Zipping along

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks, sweaters on June 7th, 2015

I finished the cardi before I got my hands on the zip. I didn’t remember that the local shop doesn’t sell long open ended zips until I was standing there and I had a flashback to my previous attempted cardigan zip purchase. They didn’t sell 25″ zips then and they don’t sell them now. I tried to buy one on line from a sewing shop and came away with a pattern for pajamas because they had long open ended zips but only in neutral colours. Had I been knitting a cardigan in white, grey, brown, navy or black I would have been laughing but I was rather committed to seafoam green at that stage. I sat with a cup of tea and went hunting on the internet to find a zip that was the right length or longer and something resembling the right colour. There were plenty in the right colour which turns out to be “mint” but only in dress zips and that is no good for a cardigan as it’s a basic requirement that it open at the bottom. I know I’m a bit of a perfectionist but I quickly ditched “picky” in favour of “desperate”. The answer turned out to be an Ebay vendor in Hong Kong, by the time I reached that listing I was quite prepared to wait for it to be shipped from Mars. The zip is the perfect colour, arrived in eight days and cost £1.35 including shipping. The alternative in the wrong colour from the UK retailer would have been £1.85 plus £1.50 postage. There’s something wrong somewhere. The zip was a few inches too long but seeing as the internet is full of pages showing you how to shorten a zip I didn’t anticipate this being a problem for long. I pulled off an inch of surplus teeth, moved the metal stopper from the previous top to the new top and cut off the spare bit.

This is Highlander knitted in whichever variant of Ethical Twist featured at Kemps a couple of years ago. I think it’s the 70/30 wool/alpaca rather than the 85/15 but I took all the labels off to dye it so I can’t be totally certain. I added some more shaping in the body, changed the collar to roll over rather than stand up, added afterthought pockets and ditched the buttons for the difficult to source zip. I bought a kilo of the yarn when it was on sale (it was cheap then, oh so cheap) and I now have 500g left. I was knitting with three balls at a time to even out any colour changes but I could have easily got away with not bothering, the whole ten skeins were very uniform. It’s light enough to overdye and that’s what I think I’ll be doing with the leftovers. I’ve been calling the colour seafoam so I was mildly amused to see that the name of the matching thread I pulled out of the suitcase  was “Lagoon Blue”. It still needs blocking, I steamed all the bits that I needed to sit flat to be able to stitch it together because we’ve not had what would be described as good drying weather. At some point it will be washed and blocking will follow.

I’m sure it’s perfectly normal to go looking for a zip and come away with a pattern for pajamas, I was trying to feel better about the fixed postage cost on the zip and added the pattern to the cart before realising that I’d chosen a dress zip. In hindsight the clue should have been that the zip was the right colour but that was early in my search when I still thought that buying a zip was simple. These are test pajamas to check that they fit the son and heir. They need an inch or two on the length and the legs are ridiculously wide but other than that they are good. He likes his pajamas thicker, it would need a heatwave to get him into these. I made a pair for me as well but they’re not finished until I’ve made the top to go with them so the blog will have to wait for photos.

This is sock three of four, the first pair were finished last week and are now hopefully in the pile to be washed. I can but dream. They look like these, uniform compliant at the top and Opal something or other in the shoe. I weighed the bright yarn after the first sock so now I know that the coloured section takes 20g of yarn. I knew that I got two pairs from a ball with a bit left over but I’d never bothered to see how big a bit it was. I think the transition on this one may be my favourite yet, this may become the new standard boysock. At some point I will need to knit more socks for me, I’ve gone through the toes of another pair recently. When I checked I found that they were seven years old so really I can’t complain. I certainly wouldn’t expect to get more than twelve months out of a shop bought pair and my seven year olds may reach ten after a retoe.

 

 



The Spring clear out

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters on March 19th, 2015

My days are flying by, I’m so busy that sooner or later I will meet myself coming in the door. I amuse myself whilst racing about by having the “Mission Impossible” soundtrack running in my head and most days it would be impossible to achieve everything that’s on my list. Some things are time sensitive and they are the ones that get done. The more flexible ones (such as “write blog post”) are the ones that keep on rolling over to the next day and then into the next week. I’ve ditched all plans to comb and spin the grey sweater, it is officially sidelined until next winter. That’s not a problem as the weather has started to warm up and we’ve had a few days that could optimistically be described as “Springlike”. Having got that out of the way I made myself find time to dust off the knitting that’s been waiting months for me to get to ten minutes finishing work with the promise that I could then start something new.

This was a September start, it’s been waiting many months for me to unzip the provisional cast on, pick up and knit one row and then cast off. It also needed a collar and the sleeve seams sewing up but as it is a little sweater they were little jobs. The pattern is Ulina, I’ve knitted it before and I’ll no doubt knit it again as it’s entertaining to knit and lends itself well to stripes which is a major consideration for those of us trying to use up sock yarn leftovers. This time I wasn’t using leftovers, I made the yarn with this pattern in mind. I had a braid of superwash wool that had been dyed in a rainbow, I split it lengthways into four to make two matching skeins of two ply yarn. The black stripes were a necessity because I was sure that I wouldn’t have enough rainbow yarn to knit the whole thing, the wider stripes in the body were my insurance in case I had to switch to wider stripes at the end of the sleeves (it’s knitted from the centre back and edges inwards, finishing at the cuffs). The buttons weren’t quite what I’d planned but they were the best that the button tin had to offer.

This has been another lingering project, again it had been waiting months for four rows at the front and a few rows at the neck edge, I’d already joined the sleeve seams and worked in all the ends. This is Drops B14-27 yet again, this pattern fulfils all my requirements for tv knitting (I can even manage to keep up with subtitles while knitting) and it uses leftover sock yarn so there’s no wonder that I keep on knitting it. The only reason that I don’t have a storage issue with the finished item is that I keep selling a couple so they aren’t piling up. I use a provisional cast on for the new sleeve stitches just so I can finish the sleeve with a three needle cast off and avoid sewing it together. I’ve been looking at the bag of leftover sock yarn and I suspect that there may be one or two more of these coming up in the near future.

After I’d finished the final child sock I had no knitting at all so I pulled a few balls of yarn out of the sock yarn scrap bag and went looking for a pattern. This is Drops B13-12 except that I’ve ignored the directions for knitting the stripes. It felt vaguely familiar and that’s because it’s the same shape as the Drops B19-3 that I knitted in 2012, there will be buttons along the raglan of this one in due course. It amazes me to see a whole something emerge from a pile of nothing, I had a bag of small balls of this and that and out of it is coming a sweater. The advantage of using lots of different yarns is that by the time you’ve knitted one stripe from each there is no appreciable reduction in the yarn remaining. That might actually be a disadvantage, I’m not sure about that yet. I suspect that I have enough yarn for two more of these before I have to hunt out more scraps. I’m not sure that I want to knit two more of these, I’ll know when I’ve finished this one. I know that another time I’ll be sticking to a set pattern on the stripes because the freeform six or seven or eight row dark and two or four row light is making my teeth itch. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I’m sure that it’s building character but no, no, no.

That was a holding project while I got to grips with sizing a cardigan pattern for my mother. I had the yarn from the failed cardigan attempt before Christmas but it’s taken me weeks to find the time and needles to knit a swatch. I knitted two, the first one felt right but was twenty two stitches to four inches rather than the twenty stitches the new pattern needed. The second swatch felt wrong, I didn’t even measure that one because it was too loose and floppy to be wearable. I went with the first swatch and decided to rejig the pattern once the swatch was dry and I knew what the tension really was. I was lucky, it’s an alpaca blend and it relaxed to the twenty stitches the pattern needed. There’s a lesson in there for someone, I’ve learned that one the hard way. I’m still not totally convinced about this, by next time I’ll have decided whether it has a future or not. If I leave posting as long as I did last time it might have sleeves by then as well as a future.

 

 

 



Finished, maybe finished and nearly finished

Posted by Caroline in Bohusish, Knitting, socks on February 27th, 2015

I’ve done a little bit of combing and a little bit of spinning but not enough of either to start on the plying-knitting part of the process so the sweater will be waiting another week before it can show some progress. At least I found the bag that had the sweater in it, I was heading towards a crisis when I realised that I didn’t have a clue where I’d stashed it over Christmas. I looked in several likely places before starting on the unlikely ones, fortunately I didn’t get all the way across the spectrum from “concern” to “panic” before I found it.

My new gloves have been out and about at least twice a day on dog walking duty so they are now much more fuzzy than in this photo. They are soft and warm and I like them. I could have done a better job of the fit, I used a glove pattern calculator and I must like my gloves to be a closer fit than the average person. The fingers are right and the thumbs are in the right place but the cuff could have done with a few stitches less. The stripe in the cuff isn’t obvious when I’m wearing my coat but it should make finding a dropped glove easier. If I had to dream up a name for the colourway then  ”lichen on pavement” would just about nail it. The yarn is the soft merino/angora, merino/camel leftover from my Wild Apple hat, the pattern on the gloves is part of the hat pattern. I still have some little balls of yarn left and I’m thinking about getting some more of the merino/camel and making another hat and glove set. (If there is anyone who wants the story of the hat, it’s all under the category of Bohusish)

I rattled off another pair of child socks, these may or may not be finished depending on whether I feel like adding a bit of embellishment with some swiss darning. The yarn was a leftover part ball that was originally light green, as it stood it was not really bold enough for teen feet. I dyed it to be self striping and matching and it would have been if one sock hadn’t had one more stitch in it than the other. I could have ripped it all the way back to the end of the gusset decreases but he’ll not mind that they don’t match and I’m trying hard not to let it bother me. When they are released into the wild they may be worn paired with a red sock or an orange one so there will be nothing to match anyway.

I had hoped to have caught up with the pile of finishing, I’m closer than I was but I’m not there yet. This little cardigan has been on the needles since November. For the last two months it’s been waiting for a whole eight rows on the buttonhole band and four rows on the neck. I was tidying up and found the pattern so it seemed like a good idea to finish the jacket before I threw the pattern away. It’s blocking and needs the buttons sewing on but I’m so close now that I think I might manage that without another two month pause. I still have another little cardigan and that one has been on the go since September. I think all that needs is an edging. It’s clear that I’m missing my Saturday morning finishing session, otherwise known as music school. Dan is now in two groups which would make for a long morning of waiting about so I drop him off and pick him up later. I previously had an hour and a half sitting in a school canteen which was an ideal time for finishing because I had nothing else to do other than work on whatever boring thing I’d taken with me and drink tea. When I’m at home I can usually find something else to do and avoid sewing up and dealing with ends.

I’m not going to promise to show two finished baby cardigans next time, that would only lead to an even longer than normal gap between posts. Finishing is not my one of my strong points.

 



Keep it simple, my brain hurts

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, socks on February 16th, 2015

It was half term here last week, I seemed to spend all of it either running around or waiting in for contractors. I spent half a day looking for the part of the hob that had vanished after I took it apart to clean, it turned up eventually stuck to the bottom of a baking sheet that I’d been using for bread. I’d already picked through the kitchen bin and the recycling bin just in case I’d thrown it away even though I knew that I couldn’t possibly have done that. After the baffling episode of the vanishing burner plate I will be glad to be getting back to a nice uneventful life this week. Last week was crying out for mindless garter stitch on big needles but unfortunately I didn’t have time to find the wool, needles or motivation so I settled for simple round and round knitting. These are destined to be birthday socks, they have the added advantage of using leftover yarn that I hadn’t got around to putting away. I was hoping not to have any left that needed putting away but the coloured yarn will live to see a third pair of socks, there’s not a lot left but it will make a stripe. I’m well on with the second sock, apparently I knit really quickly as a means of coping with hammering and brick dust.

This was the cause of the noise and dust, last week the gas fire came out and the dog baker went in complete with new hearth and mantel. We still need a dedicated baking sheet (aka hearth rug) but I’m concerned that sometimes the word “wool” seems to be a substitute for “some sort of textile, it doesn’t matter what”. I want proper wool that started with a sheep because wool doesn’t burn. Yes, I could make one but I’ve got sweaters to make and a never ending tea towel warp on the loom and there are only so many hours in the day. As an aside, you can have a dog baker even if you live in a smokeless zone, you have to have one of the DEFRA exempt ones but there seems to be a large selection of those. It’s an improvement on the hanging gas fire that we had before although the in between stage left a lot to be desired.

I’m hoping that this week I manage to get to some wool combing so that I can get my sweater finished this side of Spring. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not entirely sure where I stashed it over Christmas but I know several places where it isn’t. I know it’s in the house somewhere which is exactly what I said about the missing hob part but at least I can be certain that the sweater hasn’t found its way into the recycling.

I have new gloves – they’ll be in the next post unless of course I comb a pile of wool, spin it, ply it and race away with the sweater. My money is on the gloves.

 

 



Well hello 2015

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family, Knitting, lace, socks on January 11th, 2015

I’ll say that I’ve been away because of Christmas, there were other reasons but let’s blame the season as it’s easier to point the finger at the festive time suck rather than anything else. Everything I was making was finished, although one thing wasn’t done in time to meet a present exchange. It was finished and wrapped for Christmas Eve though so I’m counting it as done. It would be appropriate to do a big reveal at this point except that I don’t have photos of everything I made. The socks I made have been through the wash and are no longer a pair but seeing as they are plain black when in shoes the one remaining sock will match all of the others that are black above the heel. The other is in the house somewhere and sooner or later the two will be reunited.

Earlier this year I dyed a jacket and replaced the buttons, he’s worn this so many times now that I wouldn’t mind if he never wore it again. He’s worn it with a T shirt and trainers, he’s worn it with a shirt and tie. At some point it will no longer fit him because he’s fourteen and still growing. I found another charity shop grey wool jacket, dyed it green and bought it new buttons. This one is a little larger and will last a little longer. I prefer the purple one, it was much lighter to start with which meant that it was a brighter colour after dyeing. Finding a jacket that is the right size, wool and a light colour is not all that easy so I bought the grey even though I knew it wasn’t going to give me the bright green I would have liked.

I liked this cowl so much that I’ve cast on for another for me. This is Wild Iris by Silvia Harding. It’s a moebius cast on followed by evenings of round and round tv knitting and a beaded edging to finish with. The pattern includes mitts as well but I wasn’t convinced that I had enough of the yarn to make those so I didn’t try. I spun the yarn in 2011 from a Juliespins Rambouillet braid (details here), there would have been plenty but I’ve already made a beaded something from it back in May. Fortunately I had some of the beads left over as well, the beaded edging only goes half way around the cowl so it needs fewer beads than you might think. I will confess that this was finished so close to deadline that it had to have a swift steam blocking over the ironing board.

I have had a longstanding love/hate relationship with our coffee machine, there’s something that I don’t do right and whatever it is I’ve been doing it that way for the last eight years. My husband makes espresso and it’s fantastic, whereas mine tastes of failure and despondency. The two variables are the amount of coffee that goes in the holder and how much you tamp it down. I’ve stood and watched him make coffee time and time again and although I think I’m doing exactly the same thing it’s obvious by the results that I’m not. I’ve been looking at domestic beans-to-cup coffee machines every Christmas and each year they are a little smaller and a little cheaper. This was the year when a machine that would fit in the space we have was less than £200 in the January sales so I bought one. Beans go in the top, water goes in the side and then all you do is press a button. There is no skill involved in pressing a button so after eight years of muttering and occasional finger pinching I can now have coffee whenever I want. There has been a lot of button pressing going on, so much so that I’m now buying beans a kilo at a time.

I like to have a fresh start to January, I threw away the to do list but I failed to complete everything that I had on the needles. I’m still looking at two baby jackets that maybe need an hour’s work between them, it feels more like finishing than knitting so it’s just not happening at the moment. I hope to start up the combing-spinning-knitting cycle and get my new grey sweater finished before the end of the season for wearing it. I’m certain that the first thing to be finished this year will be the cowl because little pretty things get my attention every time.

 

 



All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Non-fibre, socks on November 21st, 2014

In the eight years since I started this blog I’ve never been away from it for a month. You might have guessed that Something Has Been Going On. I have been dealing with something big and dramatic (it’s ok, no-one died) and there were only so many other things I could keep on top of. I managed to keep up with meals, walkies, laundry and breadmaking but talking about wool was so far down my list of things to make and do that it fell off the bottom.

We’re about back to normal now, or at least back to what passes for normal around these parts. I can’t face a mammoth catch up so I’ll skim through the camera card and declare myself to be up to date.

I buy my pumpkins well ahead of time because I know full well that if you leave it until the last minute you get to choose from the ones that everyone else passed over. I buy the treats ahead of time for the same reason and those two things meant that Halloween still happened despite me having a crisis to manage. We would have done better had we had some carving tools, as it was we just about managed with a paring knife.  This is the first time either of use have done anything other than make shaped holes and taking the skin off and leaving the flesh was not that easy. This is the exceptional hat from the game Fallen London, sometime back in July I created a character to see what it was that people were talking about and I’ve played every day since. I already have plans for next year’s pumpkin but I think we’ll need a tool upgrade before then.

I finished knitting a pair of socks, when I reached the second toe I had no more knitting to fall back on. I had about a week with nothing to knit because I couldn’t manage to get my thoughts together to match yarn, pattern and needles.  I know that I have a sweater waiting in a bag but I’m out of yarn now and if I can’t get in gear to knit there’s no hope for combing and spinning. When life settled down enough I took the easy option of knitting something that I’ve knitted before. This is the DROPS sideways short row garter jacket that I’ve knitted so often that it ought to have its own category. This uses three balls of leftover sock yarn that I fished out of the downstairs wool basket. It’s past the centre back now so I know that there will be enough yarn to finish it without resorting to random colour changes. I do not care that I’ve knitted it before, it’s nice soothing pattern-free knitting and I’ve sold all the others so I don’t feel bad about knitting another of them.

Somehow the calendar managed to jump straight from the end of October to nearly the end of November. This is the fruit for the Christmas cake, this year we’re trying something new and soaking the fruit before baking. A quick internet search found a big variation in technique, some recipes use a sugar syrup with a few tablespoons of brandy in it, some just tip the brandy bottle over the fruit. We went for the simpler option. I think this means that the cake will have all the fruit at the bottom but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be dry.

 



Round and round

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on October 20th, 2014

I’m still knitting round and round and round. As a result I am now bored as a bored thing that’s very, very bored. Cabled or not, this is not proving to be an engaging knit and is bearable only as tv knitting. The rounds are long and I can knit for hours and see no progress. I know that I must be gaining on it but having the back and front together means that now it is growing at half the rate that it was when I was working on the back alone. This is the end of the first ball, I have a part ball that I used for the front and one full ball and I think this means I have at least another week’s knitting before I have to start spinning again. It fits, being a suspicious knitter I tried it on immediately after joining the front and back and again at this point. No doubt I’ll be trying it on every few inches, it would be a shame not to given that the advantage of knitting top down is that you can try it on as you go.

The thing to do when faced with the prospect of weeks of boring knitting is to avoid it altogether and find something else to do. That may not be your solution but it works for me. I don’t have any problems rationalising starting a pair of socks because although the sweater is simple enough for out and about knitting it is now far too big to go into my handbag. We’ve reached the time of year where I need to think ahead with photographs so that I take advantage of natural light when there is some. Today I didn’t so this is a blurry photo of a sock that’s not entirely the right colour.

There is no excuse for starting another sweater before I get as far as the sleeves on this one but my rationalisation is that I’m not actually starting a sweater, I’m just planning one. Looking at wool does not count. This blurry photo has a skein of handspun Portland on the left and a skein of commercial yarn on the right. I have enough of each to make a plain sweater but not enough of either to dye part and make a stranded sweater. If I can make the two yarns work together then there will be plenty to dye one batch (or both) and knit what’s in my mind. The challenge is that the handspun hasn’t been finished, once it sees water it will bloom. If I’m lucky it will fluff up so that it looks like the commercial yarn, if I’m unlucky then it will be super fluffy and significantly chunkier than the other yarn. I’ve spent a day looking at it but there is no alternative – I’m going to have to finish the handspun or at least enough of it to knit a swatch. I always intended  to dye the Portland, I couldn’t see the point of finishing it to store it and then dye it at some point in the future. It’s more efficient to finish the yarn in the dye bath and only have one drying cycle.

I may also be planning a rug but I can’t find any way to present that and say that it doesn’t count so I’ll just pretend that my sketches and calculations are for fun.

 



Trundling along

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks on September 14th, 2014

That was another week that escaped from me. I’m blaming the endless back to school to do list, this year there’s no decorating on it (I did that before school broke up) but there are plenty of other jobs that are eating my time. It’s always the same at this time of year because I spend six weeks saying “I’ll do that when school goes back” and I then have to deal with the results in September.  I’m still at the stage of adding two jobs for each one I cross off but I know that soon there will come the phase where everything that really needs doing is done apart from those items right at the top of the list that have been there for a very long time and exist only to make the rest of the list look good.

It is starting to feel like Autumn, some days I need a coat for dog walking, some days I don’t. There are a few conkers on the ground now and a lot of active squirrels. It’s not woolly jumper time yet and that’s good because I’m a long way from having a new one. This week I combed and spun a grand total of one bobbin of single which puts me now at a total of five. That’s pretty poor going but spinning does not feature on my to do list at the moment and it won’t be until the weather turns colder. Six is the magic number for bobbins, once I have six full I’ll start to ply. I know from experience that once I have some finished yarn in my hands the whole process will speed up, once I have the yarn then I’ll start planning a sweater and after that I’ll make time for the spinning because I can see that I have a real need for the yarn. At the moment I have a more pressing need for windows I can see through.

I enjoyed knitting the sock blank so much that I found the other one that I have stashed (if you click on the photo it will enlarge so you can see the trunks on the trees). This is also going into uniform socks, I should get two pairs from this and then another pair using the leftovers from this blank and the previous one. I was a bit concerned about the sun over the mountains because yellow tends to shout and there’s only that one patch of yellow in the panel. I’m keeping away from the sun by knitting the first sock from the right hand of the panel and the second sock from the left. The first pair of socks avoided the sun altogether and I’m hoping that I’ll get lucky and have about the same amount of yellow in each of the second pair.

I know what I’m going to knit next, it’s going to be another of these baby jackets but using the yarn on the left. It’s not yarn yet of course and it won’t have a chance to be until I’ve cleared some bobbins of Wensleydale. My plan is to fill six bobbins with grey, make two skeins of grey yarn and hopefully that will then free two bobbins that I can fill with colour. I’m going to split it into four to make two skeins of two ply and hope that they still match when I get to the sleeves. I like having a plan, it’s like a list but with less crossing off.