Weigh in

Posted by caroline in Stashbash on October 1st, 2012

Back in the dawn of time (that would be 2011 then) I decided that it would be a wizard idea this year to concentrate on using up some of the unloved odd ball yarn. What usually happens is I see a pattern I like, reject every yarn I already have on hand as being unsuitable, lovingly spin the perfect yarn for the project, realise it could be improved on and then spin another variant. By then I’ve seen another pattern I like and I’m off again adding more yarn to the stash. I have been a good girl this year and I have stuck to my resolution to see 2012g of stray yarn out of the door. When I set off I had no idea of how much yarn I use in a year, whether 2kg would be a walk in the park or a herculean effort but it became obvious early on that I was going to have no trouble using up and moving out that amount so I decided to keep track of what was coming in and make it a net 2012g.

I’ve another month to go but I’m done with it now. It’s turning cold and I might want to knit a sweater sometime soon without worrying how that might affect my figures. Net of purchases I used up 2.4kg of yarn which on the face of it would show that the 2kg target was a realistic one. This figure lies – I bought quite a lot of cotton this year for weaving teatowels (which is not happening at the moment, more about that in another post) and so the net useage tells you nothing at all. In the ten month period I used up 8.9kg which would explain why it was that when I last tidied up I emptied one plastic storage box.

I still have a lot of odd bits left but I think I’ll be taking 2013 off and maybe doing this again in 2014. I’ve not been spinning anywhere near as much this year and that’s because I’ve been so focussed on using stash yarn for projects rather than making the yarn for the project. I like spinning, I like spinning a lot, so it’s time to take my mind off stash management and focus on doing what I want rather than doing what I feel I have to do.

Answering machines – if you’re looking to replace one anytime soon and are plagued with cold callers I’d suggest looking for one that has both a night function and call barring. The night function is a whitelist, callers not in the address book go straight to the answering machine without the handset ringing so if you set the night to be very long the international/withheld numbers always go straight to the machine (where of course they immediately hang up). If you have telephone pests who don’t withhold their number you can blacklist them after which they don’t even get the answering machine option – they get the engaged tone before being cut off. I have a Panasonic KX-TG8521E but any machine with night mode and call barring should do the trick providing you have caller id. We’re not getting any less sales calls but they are less intrusive because I only move for the phone when I hear the ringtone that’s specifically for known callers. I wish I’d read the manual twelve months earlier, as it was it took a combination of late night sales calls and being stuck up a ladder to make me use all the facilities on the phone.

A variety of chores

Posted by caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Stashbash, Weaving on September 21st, 2012

I now have space in my wardrobe (a bag of clothes weighed in for recycling), space in cupboards (unused crockery rehomed via ebay) and space in the dining room (condensed toy storage leading to a reshuffle of furniture). More importantly, I now have space on my to do list. It took all of last week to get the list onto one page. It wasn’t that I was slacking – I did one job and then saw four others that needed doing so although I was busy, busy, busy the list kept getting longer. After a fun packed day on Tuesday I finally gained on it and I now have everything on one page and some empty lines on the bottom. I still haven’t put paint onto walls but I’m getting closer. As you can see I have been fully supported in this by Mr Fluffy who can be seen here closely supervising me in the washing down of paintwork while hogging the only spot of sunlight.

I’ve created some more space in my spinning corner by turning the big pile of fluffy batts into scarves. For the warp for the first one I found a cone of leftover wool that I thought was lively enough to work with the brown yarn – it wasn’t and it produced a scarf that is the right size, suitably soft for going next to a neck but top of the class in dull and boring. I think it can be rescued by crochet sunflowers but at the moment it is too plain to photograph. I went looking for a bag that I knew I had in a safe place somewhere. Once upon a time I bought some twinkly sparkly yarns in browns and creams with the idea of knitting a throw. When I got them home sanity set in and I realised that I didn’t want a throw, didn’t want to knit a throw and didn’t like knitting with multistrand yarn because it’s too splitty. The bag of yarn has been in the wardrobe ever since waiting for its time to shine. I used the multistranded yarn as warp, the brown handspun as weft and I like these scarves much better than the first one. I made three scarves before the sparkle ran out. At that point there were still some batts left unspun, enough to make the weft for another couple of scarves. My options were

a) hunt out more warp yarn and keep on going,
b) pack the remnants back into the wardrobe or
c) throw the rest of the batts in the bin and move on.

I’m not saying which option I went for but I’m done with brown scarves.

There have been a few nights where after a full day of scrubbing things I’ve just been glad to sit down and sit there until it’s time to crawl to bed so there’s nowhere near as much knitting to show as I’d expect in ten days. I did start off intending to make mittens from leftover sock yarn but I wasn’t feeling the love for these, they are on the large side of acceptable and I didn’t like the thumb pattern in this yarn. I stopped as soon as was possible and made them into fingerless mitts. I don’t like fingerless mitts but they’re not for me so what does it matter? I’m still trundling around with the second one, it feels like a chore but I’ve started so I’ll finish. It’s not enough of a chore to make it onto the to do list though, I’m keeping those lines free for proper jobs.

When faced with twenty six rounds of no fun I did what every sensible knitter would do in this position – set that project aside and cast on for something else. The mitts will get finished, I’ll take them as a music school project because when I have nothing else to work on they will get done. The fun knitting is bootees. My excuse for this is that I’ve never knitted any so although I don’t know anyone in need of bootees I feel I can justify these in terms of the experience. It’s a feeble excuse but it’s the only one I have. When I’ve knitted the other one my excuse for a second pair will be that I’ve never knitted them from the sole up.

Next week should be the one where the paint meets the ceiling and hopefully just the ceiling and not the floor, my hair or the dog. By the time I return I should have three fresh looking ceilings, two matching fingerless mittens and possibly a bag of bootees.


Do what you love, love what you do

Posted by caroline in Knitting, socks, Stashbash, Weaving on September 2nd, 2012

It’s not been a good week for knitting. I started off well enough, the last of the holiday knitting finished itself and when I went to photograph the socks they had gone. They were in use before I had time to get a daylight photo so you’ll have to take my word for it that he has one on the other foot too. They’ve been released into the wild and that’s the last I’ll see of them until I wash them. I wish I’d made a note of what form of Opal these were so I could manage not to buy any more. I don’t have a problem with self patterning yarn but I’m not enamoured with spirals. I’m the only sock wearer that is anti-spiral but I’m the one that has to look at them while I’m knitting so I’m the one that counts.

That left me with nothing at all on the needles and that’s where things started to go badly as I tried to find something to knit while not wanting to knit anything. I had a look through all those patterns I’d queued to knit someday, read through a couple of knitting books and then cast on for something totally different. This is as far as I got with a Leftie, it should have been a winner as it has miles of plain garter interspersed with odd bits of leftover sock yarn. I badly wanted it to be a winner as it held the prospect of nice long rows of mindless knitting and so I was prepared to take a bit of a risk on the yarn. I knew that the coned white yarn I had was skinnier than sock yarn but I had thought that it would plump up enough when the spinning oil was washed out of it. I wasn’t entirely certain of this so I washed this bit just to see what it would look like. It didn’t fill out as much as I’d hoped, the white sections still look wimpy so it is doomed. I like the pattern though, next time I might even take the radical step of using suitable yarn.

My second attempt at forcing myself into some knitting worked out slightly better. This was a Mitred Mitten in a child size for the Christmas Shoebox appeal and that’s as far as it got before returning to a ball of yarn. There was nothing actually wrong with it but once I had tried it on to see where the thumb would fall it was going to be a ripper. Its problem was that it was altogether perfect. The yarn was lovely, the fabric felt lovely, in fact it felt as soft and cuddly as my much lamented lost handspun gloves. I remembered that I still have no gloves for the winter (my previous attempt having ending up in the shoebox box) and although I tried to convince myself that there was plenty in the ball for a pair of mittens and a pair of gloves for me I didn’t buy it. It’s going to be gloves for me first, using up leftovers second.

It’s just as well that I have another string to my bow so that when knitting fails me I can find something else to do with yarn. I’m trundling through a scarf on the rigid heddle and that is behaving itself perfectly, so far at least. After weeks away from it (it’s still the school holidays here) I put up the floor loom to tie the teatowel warp back on. This tea towel was going to be the test for the pattern for the green blanket, it only uses four treadles so I can just use one leg to treadle. Now I’ve identified the source of my knee trouble I can go back to using all ten treadles but seeing as I’d taken the time to work out something that would work with the threading I had I thought that I might as well use it. This teatowel suffers from the same problem as the last one – a small all over pattern in plain boring yarn is fine if you want to wear it but if the fabric is just going to sit there and be a teatowel then it could do with being more exciting. I know this is a bit obvious but in my defence I’d like to point out that I rarely weave with plain yarn, my warps are usually more like the one on the left, handspun wool with random colour changes, sparkle and the odd lump. This plain thing is a whole new experience for me and I’m sure it must be character building simply because I’m not enjoying it at all. I’ll be back to the drafting software to see if there’s any way that I can liven up the remaining tea towels because this one is no fun.

Land of the long white cloud

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting, socks, Stashbash on August 19th, 2012

It turned out that I’m not sick of pink baby jackets just yet although I have to admit that the shine is wearing off a bit now and this might be the last one for a while. This was my holiday knitting and I had hoped to bring it home finished but the weather conspired against me, that and the two pairs of socks that were fighting for my knitting time. The jacket is another one of the DROPS two piece productions in left over sock yarn. I’m currently at the stage of knitting along the mitre at the front, across the shoulder and down the back (the backs are squashed together in the middle of the needle). In another few inches I have the exciting part where I reach the neck, abandon the fronts and just knit on across the back. I know that part grows really quickly and I get to use up those odd bits of yarn that are now too small to go far enough on the long rows. After I’m finished with the back the rows start getting longer again as the mitre on the fronts gets larger but by then I will know that I’m knitting downhill and I’m near the end.

Despite the title we did not pop to New Zealand for the week, the long white clouds were made closer to home. I didn’t get a photo of the best ones because at that point I hadn’t unearthed my camera but for the first two days a steady stream of cloud rolled off every cliff and headland. Inland, downwind of the cloud factories, it was grey and grim but we got the sun because we were on an estuary at sea level with nothing in front of us to generate cloud. If that had kept up all week I might have got my jacket finished (if I’d managed to keep my hands off the socks) but the weather changed to include a howling wind and occasional rain that sounded like gravel thrown against the windows. There was nothing between us and the waves except a small wall and a road and the wind never stopped howling all night and then the next night and the one after that. I was so tired that I scrapped the idea of a blog post, forgot I owned a camera and put the knitting down. I was so tired that I wanted to come home early but I stuck it out to the end of the week.

The weather was “unsettled” which is a lovely way of saying that you could be baked and drenched in the same day. Luckily we managed to mostly be in the right place at the right time, to the left is Bicton Park where the weather was picking up, to the right Babbacombe model village where it had not long since stopped raining. Both mornings had started wet and windy and then we ended up looking for shade. (Both photos taken by my husband who slept better than I did and so didn’t forget he had a camera) ETA – Mr Indignant would like to point out that the Bicton Park photo is too wonky to be one of his and was clearly taken by our son who is not that concerned about a level horizon.

The sock in progress (both of them) did get out and about but I know that knitting with wet wool throws my tension off so they got a lot of mileage without getting out of my bag much. This is a holiday sock right at the beginning of the week before the wind put paid to sitting out on the balcony with a coffee. I still haven’t reached the heel but seeing as I have a sock and a half of the other pair done there’s a good chance that there might be something finished for the next post.

I believe

Posted by caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Stashbash on August 10th, 2012

I do not believe in walking trees, talking cows or flying cars. I don’t believe in magic sacks that fill with whatever the holder is thinking of or enchanted bottles of oil from which gallons can be poured without the liquid level dropping. This means that I have to believe that one day I will work my way down through the bag of sock scraps because it is not possible that it is filling itself by magical means. I keep rummaging through it and pulling out scraps of similar colours and knitting them into a baby jacket. A big heap of scraps comes out and a few small balls go back. Each little jacket takes over 120g of yarn which is about the same as the leftovers from four pairs of socks. Intellectually I know that I must be gaining on it but I can’t see any signs of it happening.

This is another 120g of sock scraps. I should say that I don’t knit as many pink socks as it might appear, the various yarns all started off as fairly light colours and went into the same pink dyebath. I have knitted something in this shape before, it was the little jacket that started my current obsession with two piece baby jackets. The last one I made came out of my head but this one is someone else’s design. It’s Ulina, a free pattern in one size. It starts with a lot of stitches and decreases merrily away until you work down the sleeves and cast off at the cuff.

I knitted it more or less as written, I started with a provisional cast on because I knew that I would finish with a brown edging all around the body, the provisional cast on meant that the stitches along the bottom of the back and up the front edges were waiting for me. After I’d knitted an inch or so of the first side I undid the provisional cast on that ran up the back and started knitting the second side outwards from the cast on at the centre back. Knitting both sides at the same time made it easier to keep track of the stripes and that narrow brown stripe was handy as a counting aid.

I did change the collar slightly because I wanted a sloping edge rather than a right angle. One side came out perfectly and the other failed to meet expectations. If I make it again I’ll move the buttonholes so that the first one falls just under the collar rather than in the collar because then I’ll not have the short rows fighting with the buttonhole. There again if I make it again I’ll probably drop the neckline because it’s not easy finding buttonholes under a double chin. My top button doesn’t line up with the others, I should have ripped and reknit but I was done with it by that stage.

I had thought that the next little jacket would be blue but it looks as if there’s enough pink left for at least two more. Whether I fancy knitting two more is another question altogether.


Change of pace

Posted by caroline in Stashbash, Weaving on July 18th, 2012

It’s not you, it’s me. Now you’ve had your edges fixed there’s nothing wrong with you at all. You’re good looking in an elegant understated sort of way. It is true that I’d rather spend my time with something that’s a bit more lively, even (dare I say it?) “stripey” but that’s down to me being a shallow weaver with a short attention span. We’re going to have to be apart for a little while, please don’t listen to the whispers because whatever they say this has nothing at all to do with the more interesting yarn that I bought at Fibre East at the weekend. There’s nothing between us at all and it’s not true that I was sketching out jazzy striped tea towels as soon as I got home. I am true to you right to the end of this warp and I’m sure that I’ll be more in love with your plain elegant lines after a week apart.

Seriously, it is down to me. I’ve been nursing a dodgy knee for weeks and I’ve decided that it’s time to try giving it a rest with a complete absence of treadling (both loom and wheel) for a week. If it’s better after that then I might stretch to another week, if it’s the same then it’s clear that treadling isn’t part of the problem. This means that the teatowel will be hanging around for a bit longer. It has a wobbly thread on the left that needs fixing and a couple of loose threads that are making weaving a pain (not just in the knee) but once they are fixed it should be a relatively quick job to get the rest of the warp woven off. I have six inches to go before the pattern change for the next towel and I’m ready for it already.

There’s still plenty of weaving about, just without treadles and not in cotton. I’ve been pulling yarn out of the odd ball bag in an attempt to make it go away or at least fit into a smaller bag. The first scarf (on the left of the photo) used the leftovers from the last scarf together with a few odds and ends, the second one was all the leftovers from that with a few more odd balls thrown in. The grey weft really calms the whole thing down which was what I wanted because I’m aiming for plainish, unisex easy to wear items. The third piece was neither plainish nor unisex because I found the ball of sequinned yarn that I made back in 2007. I’m undecided whether that will be a scarf or three bags, I need to see what it looks like after a wash and whether those sequins are too itchy to be worn. It currently has the drape of a cardboard box but that’s because it’s not had its beauty bath yet. The bag that keeps on giving has less choice than it did but it’s still a long way from empty. At some point I’ll need to go looking for some more yarn to pull the random leftovers together but I’m still a couple of scarves away from that yet.

I’m planning the next project to go on the floor loom after the teatowels but the weather needs to co-operate as it involves dyeing which necessitates drying. It’s summer and getting dripping wool dry should be as simple as hanging it outside then bringing it in a couple of hours later but that’s not the sort of summer we’ve been having. As soon as the weather forecast promises a few days of warmth I’ll be dyeing, in the meantime I’ll be skeining in readiness. The yarn crept into the previous two photos, it was holding the scarves up off the slightly damp wooden table. Here it is revealed in all its glory. You may well be asking why I bought such unlovely yarn. Yellow yarn is usually cheap because no-one wants it, it’s often much cheaper than white yarn. If you look on this as 2kg of dyeable wool then the original colour doesn’t matter as long as it’s light enough to overdye. This could be red, brown or green without trying too hard. I bought these last summer, I was already paying for the postage by buying some other reasonably coloured yarn so I got 2kg of pure wool for peanuts. My current plan involves blue dye but I might try red and brown too, there will be samples before I start for real because it’s not as if I’m afraid that sampling will run me short in any way.



Posted by caroline in Stashbash, Weaving on June 20th, 2012

I’ve been playing around with an idea that I had for a small scarf or cowl. I imagined a tube, woven as a wide and narrow piece, joined by tying the fringe from the top and bottom together, sewn at the ends with a half twist to make a continuous loop.  I could see it in my mind, the fringe spiralled around in a pleasing manner and it was altogether lovely. I even dreamed about a beaded version in lapis and gold which was truly a thing of beauty. Sadly in reality such a thing is physically impossible, you either need to put it together with a full twist or have fringe at both sides. I was going for the full twist but I didn’t give much consideration to how much fringe there was going to be in a 60″ length. Would you believe it, there’s 60″ of fringe in this which is considerably more than I wanted to make. You will notice that half of the fringe is unfinished and it’s stopping like that, this piece is doomed. It has potential as a pocket or another type of scarf thing (the mark three version, of which more later)

This was where I went next, the mark two version. It has fringe on both sides so it can be joined right side to wrong side with a half twist. My loom isn’t wide enough to weave it all in one piece so it is three pieces seamed at the selvedges. This too was an evolutionary dead end because I don’t like the fringe at all. I didn’t need to twist it which is a positive and it was easy to make but it’s all thin and straggly. It’s never a waste if you learn something so I moved swiftly along to the mark three version (left) which has the half twist and no fringe (straggly or otherwise). I quite like this, they are all long enough to double over like this but this one needs it because it’s so skinny. I thought I’d like it more if it were wider. The mark four scarf (below right) proved that to be the case. I like this one best out of the four so far. I think I’d like it even more if it were longer and I’ll get to find that out in a bit because this warp is twelve yards long so there’s plenty of room for experimentation. The next scarf will be the same length but wider and then I might move to something about six inches longer. I’m hoping that by the time I get to the end of this warp I’ll have discovered what I like most in a circular scarf in terms of width and length. I’ll have also weighed in a considerable amount towards my 2012 stashbash which is good because I’ve had a slight blip on purchases this month (I’m using all of my top excuses – it was cheap, I have a plan for it, I have no desire to spin it and I don’t have anything like it stashed already)

The fun thing about making these is that I’m not going to be making thirteen identical scarves, so far they are all very different. Even when I determine what my favourite width and length is they will still be different even though they use the same warp because I’m using up odd bits of yarn for weft. At some point there may need to be stripes but I’m still some way off that yet. I’m liking this so much that I’m considering winding another long warp of browns and moss greens, there seems to be a lot of that floating near the top in the odd ball bag. Common sense is telling me that I should wait until I’ve made a few more of these because if boredom sets in before I’m done then I don’t want to be tied to another twelve yards. My guilty conscience says that under the terms of the stash bash that I committed to this year I should be accounting for those two cones of yarn I just bought even if they were cheap and not something I have or can make and furthermore another twelve yard warp might not be enough to cover it.

Next time I should have knitting to show, leaves and socks most likely, and I should have finished struggling with my conscience over my recent yarn purchases (did I say that it was cheap, useful and difficult to make?).

(Someone will ask – what am I going to do with twenty cowls? Any that turn out to be drop dead gorgeous will be having a day out on a craft stall but the plan is for them all to go in the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes later in the year. My aim here is to prune the stash rather than stock up on cowls)


Stuff the monkeys

Posted by caroline in Knitting, lace, socks, Spinning, Stashbash, Weaving on June 7th, 2012

Thank you for your comments on the not-a-pirate-at-all monkey, we’re still making them as the sale isn’t until next week. This week’s monkeys have been black and bright as a result of my impulse purchase of a seven-pack of socks. These don’t need clothes because they are drop dead gorgeous, it’s the plain Janes that need a little something to help them along. I think this one might be Kiki but I haven’t set the bio-writer to work yet so it could be something else entirely. There was much less work in this than in the pirate as the total knitting content consisted of one bulky nappy with a tail hole, one little bottle of banana milk and a frilly bonnet with ear slits. I did think about a bib but I thought that the neck fastening on that would conflict with that on the bonnet so the bib didn’t make it off the drawing board. I liked making the bonnet, I could make them all day because it was interesting (changes of direction, short rows) and it finished fast. I tried to make the bottle banana shaped and it sort of worked but I can’t say that it came out the way I imagined it looking. I didn’t lose sleep over that, nor did I feel the need to rip it and start over so perhaps I am softening up as I get older.

It has not all been monkeys, last week I carded a three colour mixture of shetland for me rather than for the shop. I spun it over the weekend and started knitting it slightly before it was what non-knitters might consider to be totally dry. It’s already at the stage of being too big for straight needles although I’m pretending it isn’t because I don’t want to look for a circular needle. At the moment it’s a Zetor but I’ve knitted that twice before and I’ve had enough of the pattern already. I’ve finished with the white section of the yarn, it’s now as grey as it gets and at some point it will change gradually to sheep black. The yarn is mildly entertaining but it’s not zingy enough to offset the mind numbing pattern which will now repeat until I think I’m ready for the border. It might morph into leaves or diamonds (diamonds are big at the moment) or I could of course knit another row while I think about it some more.

I seem to have cast on for a pair of socks. You don’t have to think of something positive to say about these because I know that they are without a doubt the ugliest pair I’ve knitted in a long time, it’s the combination of pink and green that I’m finding particularly unlovely. The flash isn’t doing them any favours but the best lighting conditions for these is probably total darkness. I won’t be looking out for any more Opal Neon, this ball has put me off it. The leftovers will be hitting the dye before they go in the scrap bag, I can’t see me wanting to knit it again in its original colours. They will be hard wearing, prevent blisters and make another pair until washday.

The pile of monkeys on top of the loom is a clue that weaving is at a halt, I sleyed the warp that was left on the loom at 15 ends per inch per layer as opposed to the 12 epi I used for the first piano scarf. Since then it’s just sat there waiting for me to tie on and start. I thought a little incentive was in order so I’ve wound the warp that I’ll tie onto the end of the piano scarf once I’ve finished it (which obviously won’t be until after I’ve started it). I started off with a big pile of random balls of leftovers, there was a bag of blue, a bag of green and then I had a general rummage to see what else I could find that went with those. I’m happy to say that by the time I’d wound the warp there was very little left, by the time I’m done with weft stripes there might be nothing at all to go back in the bag. I still need to start by weaving in black and white but now I can see what’s coming along next. The idea is that I’m so taken with my plans for the blue/green that I overcome my reluctance to weave a second keyboard. Let’s see how that one works out for me.

Da capo al fine

Posted by caroline in doubleweave, hats, Knitting, Stashbash, Weaving on May 23rd, 2012

I live with two musicians, it should be no surprise that I pick something up along the way. It’s nice that there is a phrase for when you’ve got to the end and then go back and start the whole thing again because that is exactly what I’ll be doing here. This is the first of the piano keyboards, sett at 12 epi and intended for a scarf. It finished at 78″ long, I’d estimated that it would be 79″ so I got that bang on target. The yarn is JC Rennie 2/11.3nm, it comes in big cones, oiled for machine knitters. I’ve picked up quite a few cones cheaply on Ebay so I already had a kilo of the white but I did have to buy the black.

The draft is from Handwoven of November/December 2011, it has a scarf in laceweight sett at 20epi for each layer and one in chenille sett at 15. I was reluctant to trim the pattern down to get the same size scarf at 12 epi because the gap between the keys is already as narrow as it can be. If I made the keys narrower and shorter to allow for the thicker yarn then the gaps would be proportionately bigger. I decided to just make a scarf that would be longer and wider than a piano keyboard but would have the right proportions. The second piece is destined to become part of a cover for a digital piano and with that I’m going to sett it at 15 epi and generate a keyboard that’s the right size and stiff as a board. It would have been nice to have woven the first piece at the right sett and got a scarf the same size as a keyboard but I’m all about using what I have where I can.

I’m still not knitting, this week while not knitting I’ve made another three hats and started a pair of socks. The four hats and the piano scarf weigh more than the cone of black I bought to make the scarf so I’m still on target with my stashbusting exercise. I also whipped up a little sleeveless number in blue, when I cast on it was going to be a sweater but the more I thought about it the more I realised that getting those long spindly arms into sleeves was going to be more trouble than it was worth. Having no shoulders and your chin lower than your arms does pose some interesting fitting challenges. He needs a hat and possibly a scarf but I can slack off for the moment as he’s nowhere to be seen and I can claim that I forgot all about him. At least the hat and scarf won’t be difficult to fit.

I might be on the brink of a return to the needles, we’re having some warm and sunny weather at the moment so why I should be thinking about cardigans is beyond me. I don’t know yet whether this is The One, the sign is when I start dreaming about it and I’m not there yet. It also depends on whether there’s enough of the Ryeland, the coloured bands can be larger but there’s a limit to how far you can stretch “not enough” yarn. I don’t know what colour the bands are or how they are worked, I’ve left that with my inner knitter to work out while I get on with other things. I haven’t thought about a collar or the bottom edges but just for once I know exactly what the buttons should look like. I’m not sure that buttons are the best place to start but I might well be building a cardigan around them.

Seemingly a sprint not a marathon

Posted by caroline in hats, Knitting, Stashbash, Weaving on April 30th, 2012

My self imposed mission was to get through 2012g of unloved odd ball yarn before November. I didn’t know whether that was an achievable target, it sounded a lot but 180g a month sounded more realistic. That shows if you’re planning to eat an elephant you first need to cut it into bite sized chunks. I can say now that it was an easy target to meet because I’ve hit it by April. All I have to do for the rest of the year is move more out than I buy.

This was the key to my success, when you make a single item that weighs 913g then it goes a long way towards the goal. The sharp eyed may notice that it’s not entirely finished but it’s in use so I’m counting it. I used all of a cone of brown/green yarn, part of a cone of gold and nearly all of the mountain of alpaca/bfl that I spun three years ago. Using the alpaca has left a noticeable gap in the bottom wool box, it’s very pleasing to see. I made this as a single length, cut it into three and sewed it back together again with what my machine calls “patchwork stitch”. If you do it by hand then I think it would be baseball stitch and I’m fairly certain that if I did it by hand then it would never get done.

The brown/gold mix changes across the width, my grand plan was that the warp ran from mostly brown to mostly gold and then back to mostly brown again. That would probably have worked better if I’d made this in four sections rather than three, as it is there are not enough of the changes for it to show as a pattern. It was sett at seven ends per inch except for the experimental section where I went with six. I can’t tell the difference now, going with six overall would have made life easier because it was a six dent reed. The reason that it’s not really finished yet is the end. I didn’t want a hem because this is very thick fabric and I thought a triple thickness edge would be too bulky so I decided to pretend that it’s a quilt and bind the ends with double fold cotton fabric. When I had this idea I had the perfect fabric in mind that had the advantages of being easily accessible and of decent yardage. It was a pity that the reality was that it was easily accessible, very long and totally the wrong colour so now I need a good poke through the quilting stash to audition alternatives. The ends are secure for now, just not very pretty.

I’ve also seen off one ball of Kureyon and reduced some other aran weight yarn. I made dozens of these hats back in my last stash reduction attempt of 2007, it’s Tychus from Knitty and this could possibly be my favourite hat pattern. It’s garter stitch so it stretches to fit all size heads, it’s knitted on the same needles throughout and if you start with a provisional cast on over a circular needle it’s a simple three needle bind off to close what should be the seam. If you watch what you are doing you might even remember to do the bind off with the right sides together, unlike me. I add two stitches to the depth and make four wedges instead of five and it turns out a lovely hat every time. The four hats weighed 235g and took a couple of evenings to knit so again that shows that 180g a month is not a huge accomplishment.

I could decide to up my target to something more challenging or I could sit back and rest on my laurels. Having given it a bit of thought I’m going to keep track of the ins and outs for the rest of the year and look at doing the same thing again next year but maybe with a higher target figure. I’ve spent a solid four months on stash reduction knitting and I think I’m overdue some time off.