Somewhere I can let out my inner crafter without being labeled as even more insane.

I realised half way though spinning the first spindle-ful of this lovely green fluff that I want to knit it as singles rather than plied yarn (thinner is a big thing for what I have planned for this). The problem? Handspun singles. They tend to be ‘energised’, and have a strong lean in one direction when knitted (there’s an *excellent* shawl I really want to knit which uses this technique, slantwise). Anyway, I definitely didn’t want *my* knitting to do that. the solution (after a quick google search), seemed to be two-fold- spin looser (bit of a promlem since I already had half a spindleful…), and be harsher on the yarn when finishing. Well, the second one is easy enough! I also spun a spindle-ful and made a two-ply of it (being very careful to not over/under ply it). Okay, diversion: you can check for under/overply as you’re plying by letting a length of the ply hang loose and seeing whether it twists on itself. One way represents underplying, the other overplying. A bit of experience will let you know which is which (by the end of my spindleful I had it down, but I’ve forgotten and of course it depends on whether you spun S or Z singles…). Diversion over.

So, I now had a small skein of singles, and another of plied (plied on top in the above pic). Now to test-knit some swatches.

The singles knitted up just fine (I was slightly concerned as the skein twists on itself a bit, but clearly not enough to affect the fabric). This swatch was knitted on 2.5mm needles, and I think I like it, but not the pattern. I have my heart set on a double diamond pattern, which I think I’ll have to unvent… There is excellent stitch definition, and minimal haloing. None of the fibres came off on me while I was knitting, and it doesn’t look like any will later on, even the metallic bits, which look like they’d be the most likely to come off at an inopportune moment. There’s also far less rolling than I would expect for this sample (I did I garter stitch border up the sides, and although there is some movement on the left edge near the top, that’s about it. Obviously this will change with a different stitch pattern…). This stitch pattern, for anyone interested/my future notes: a bit of the Advent calender scarf I did many years ago. I just scrolled through he options until I came across something with some simple lace, as that’s what I’m aiming to do with the final yarn.

 

 

The plied: I did one repeat of a feather and fan stitch. As I was knitting this, the yarn felt very fuzzy, without actually losing any loose fibres. Knitted, it doesn’t look as fuzzy as I thought/feared, but there’s definitely some fuzz. Not enough to lose much stitch definition. Another weird thing- the metallic bits looks yellow in this sample, rather than the copper of the original batt/singles. Strange. It feels a bit smooshy to touch, but that might be the hint of garter stitch (knit every fourth row, and a garter stitch bit at the top before I cast off) or the fact that it’s thicker, being plied rather than the singles. I feel like there are bits I would want to change if I were knitting with this yarn, but I’m not sure what, and as I like the single, there’s no point me trying to work it out.

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So this was going to be about the socks rather than this cross stitch, but then I actually did some work on it (isnt it amazing that when you work on things, progress gets made???), and I finished the quarrel bit of the wedding sampler. I must admit, I have no idea what it is that I stitched…any ideas?Onto the next bit! R is for romance

Ok, so, phew, I survived my three weeks of slight insanity. Umm. Crafting kinda fell by the wayside, with the result of it all wanting attention NOW. Unfortunately, my holiday is now over and therefore I have to do the work thing…

Anyway, what has been happening? Well, I was in York at the weekend for Pride, so much knitting was accomplished on cockatoo brae (long train trips are made longer by delays…amusingly, the train ticket I had was a complimentary one due to the delays I had coming back from York from my viva…this makes claiming compensation rather awkward…) Anyway, cockatoo brae is coming along well ahead of schedule! As well as all the rows I planned to do this month, I have started the increases as well 🙂

(Isn’t all the brown lovely. Find the sarcasm in the last sentence…)

This weekend I will be teaching my aunt how to crochet jellyfish for premature babies. Naturally, this means I a) need more yarn(and crochet hooks), and b) need to crochet one in the first instance so I know what’s going on. 4ply yarn and a 2mm crochet hook are fun! Fiddly, but fun.

My mother’s socks have been started…just. I really need to get on with these, but I can’t take them home this weekend, since I’m visiting her…These will become my priority when I finish Mildred’s socks.

Speaking of Mildred’s socks, I have one finished and the other one past the toe. Before Pride at the weekend there were three members of knitsoc in a cafe, all knitting socks, all from the toe up, (two on circular, one on DPNS), in various colours and patterns. It was rather surreal to be sat there, and have someone ask what we were knitting, and all three of us saying ‘socks’ in unison. Anyway, these socks need finishing soonish. 🙂 They’ll be coming with me at the weekend.

Finally, the cross stitch wedding sampler has been ignored. But you can have a picture on what was done before but not photographed. Hopefully I’ll come back to this after the weekend (it’s probably a little bit optimistic to think it might happen before the weekend, given how it’s all going!)

Right, that’s me pretty much caught up I think (except for what I’ve been spinning/knitting but that should end up being a blog post by itself sooner rather than later…)

May/June plans

May’s goals! I completely destroyed all of these, so either I’m being productive or I’m not challenging myself enough…

  1. Finish the cardamon bird socks. That’s less than one sock, should be doable…
    Done! This was harder than I anticipated, I just wasn’t interested in knitting them. Which is somewhat awkward since one of my June goals is to knit another pair…
  2. Finish the cockatoo brae sleeves and start the body. This involves a blog post about sleeve length because I need some advice on it…
    Donedid 😀 I didn’t write a blog post about it in the end, I just decided that I’d done enough (and if I haven’t then I can remove the cuffs and knit more down)
  3. Post the blog post about knitting left-handed. All it needs is a couple more pictures. (And finish knitting the main section of the pocket)
    Managed 🙂 And I started teaching my lefty friend how to knit. Now to find the time to teach him the purl stitch…
  4. Complete the middle square of the wedding sampler. By square I don’t mean the outside border, or the shading around it (that would be too awkward to count, and is best done with the boarder or square next to it).
    So far above and beyond this one I hid orbit 😉 I also managed the ‘I do’ square, the heart about the main square, the ‘Promise’ square, and started the ‘Quarrel’ square. Go me!
  5. Spin something pretty. I bought lots of lovely goodies at Woolfest yesterday, including 4 batts. I should spin something pretty, for funsies 🙂  I wonder how thin I can go on my lil turkish drop spindle, it was pretty fine when I tried it out.
    Managed, and it’s amazing 🙂 I’m currently blocking a small thing I knitted with a single, then there should be a blog post about spinning coming…
  6. Bonus: do some research for the best way to do something clever with the back shaping for Buttonbox. I think I have a good idea about the rest of it (note to self: do a blog post about it at some point…)
    Yes. No blog post about it because that particular thing doesnt need anything special doing. There is another blog post I should do about all the mods I want to do about it, but finding the time is always a challenge! Crafting is a bit more exciting than writing about crafting!

There were some other things getting done as well, such as the first sock for another pair for a friend…ok, maybe it was just that. So, what should I do next month???

 

  1. Knit another pair of bird socks. (This also involves choosing which pair to make, whcih I think will be the harder choice…)
  2. Finish Mildred’s second sock. It’s basically vanilla, with some striping. Easy peasy (And therefore I will totally procrastinate on it…)
  3. Crochet a flat preemie octopus to get the hang of it before I teach my aunt…That lesson will probably be happening on/around the 17th, so I should get a move on with this (when I go back to Salisbury and can get my crochet hooks…)
  4. Cross stitch Q-S of the wedding sampler (bonus: also start X)
  5. Do ‘some generic amount’ of cockatoo brae. Umm, I need a definite amount to knit, otherwise it won’t get done (it may not get done anyway, it’s just stocking stitch in the round now… Tedious much???) So…reach bust shaping? I’m knitting the third size, so that’s the set up round then 7 sets of 7 rows and the 9 lain rows between the waist shaping and the bust shaping. 59 rows. Hmm. Having had a very quick look at the other patterns, I don’t need to make it any longer. We shall see I guess…
  6. Bonus: Knit another 10 squares on my scrappy blanket. That will finish the complete ’round’
  7. Bonus: blog posts about spinning, buttonbox mods and/or the afterthought pocket

3 socks, a crochet project, a (probably) decent amount of cross stitch, a decent load on cockatoo brae and some bonus things. I can’t decide whether this is too much or too little (I have very little actual work to do and some long train rides coming up). We shall see I guess. And if I finish these all early, there’s no reason I can’t do new goals before July…

Flurry of finishes!

So, things have been busy here, and I have brief moment of calm in the eye of the proverbial storm! And I have some finishes to show off to you all. Firstly: the cross stitch stockings from…ooh, a while ago!

Finished! I’m really happy how these came out, although I have no intention whatsoever of replicating these ever again! Working with the felt was definitely a challenge, but now I’ve mastered it, (basically how to angle the needle to go through the hole cleanly), I don’t feel the need to try it again!

In other news (and another finish!), I finished the second pair of my mothers socks! I’ve had a quick look through my queue for which pair to start next, and I’m overwhelmed…*facepalm*. I’ll have another look tomorrow I think.

And the wedding sampler. I had no votes on which way to go, so I’m going around really! The ‘I do’ square (ignore the fact it’s a square out, it doesn’t matter that much…) was really fun to do

It’s finished now, and I’ve done most of the heart above the middle section. Busy busy busy 🙂

So…yeah. Life is slightly crazy right now, posts wil happen as/when they do really. Normal service will probably resume…August??? It depends on the job situation front… Anyway, onto the crafting that you’re all here for! I have reached a milestone in the wedding cross stitch, and I’m after suggestions on which way I should go next (hello decision fatigue!). So this is all the middle done (woot!)

Now, which way? The options are: I do (top left), the (to be left blank for now) name space (top), Journey, Promise or Romance (top right), eXtra-ordinary journey (bottom right), Wedding or Vows (bottom). Those are all the options I’m giving you as working out the other ones would be too hard. Vote by leaving a comment. I will collate them (and maybe ignore them) at some later date…For anyone who wants a reminder of what it will look like finished:

Please note: left handed knitting (where the knitting starts on the right hand needle and ends up on the left hand needle) is different to backwards knitting (done so you can avoid purling in stocking stitch, commonly used in mitred squares, entrlac etc). I’ve used backwards knitting quite a lot- I taught myself for entrelac, and (I think) it’s fairly intuitive. That being said, I’ve always held the yarn for it in my right hand, which definitely I find easier. Ahh, the glorious ease of long practice!

The main difference between left handed and backwards knitting: the way you wrap your yarn around your needle to make the stitches. In backwards knitting, you want the leading leg of the yarn to be facing you without turning the work, in left handed knitting, you turn the work and then want the leading leg to be facing you.

Question: what do I mean by leading leg? (Ok, I had to look this up- I had an intuitive idea, but wasn’t able to verbalise why). The general consensus is that the leading leg is the one which sits closer to the tip of the needle. (Disclaimer: I’m not pitching this at complete beginners).

 

Fig 1: left hand knitting after a row of knitting:

 

The important thing to note here is that the leading leg of the stitch is at the back of the work(the tip of the needle is on the right), rather than the front. If you were to knit right handed after this, all the stitches would be twisted- hardly a deal breaker, but something to bear in mind. Also, the yarn would be at the other end…

(Right hand knitting after a row or knitting looks exactly the same as after a right hand row of purling, and so I’m not going to provide a picture of that)

Fig 2: left hand knitting after a row of purling (knit side):

 

 

This now has the leading leg at the front on the knit side, ready for the next knit row. (Bear in mind that the tip of the needle is on the left here).

Note: in both these pictures, the yarn loops are facing the same direction. What is important here (but I couldn’t photgraph due to needing to be close enough to the yarn to see the direction of the loops) is where the tip of the needle is.

Either way, you ideally want the leading leg to be facing you, whichever end has the point of the knitting needle. Otherwise, all your stitches will be twisted. Second disclaimer: of course, you might be going for twisted stitches, and you can untwist them as you knit/purl, but that’s more awkward (most of the time).

Ok, so how to knit (and purl) left-handed? Flippant answer: copy someone knitting righthanded in a mirror. Everyone gives this advice when someone asks how to teach a left-handed person to knit. Either that, or to just teach them continental (as though putting the yarn in the left hand is all there is to it…)

Full disclosure: this is why I learnt to knit left-handed. I agreed to teach a left-hander to knit and want to do it properly. (Word of the year is still preparation 😉 )

So, knit stitch. Insert working needle (left needle) through the first stitch on the holder (right needle) away from you, wrap the yarn around the working needle by going under the needle towards the holder needle then over away from it (see picture). Pull the yarn through the stitch then push the stitch off the holder. Please note: this is exactly the same as the instructions for the knit stitch right-handed, just with the working needle and holder the other way around. This shouldn’t be a surprise to people, but I wanted to highlight it. Second note: the leading leg of the new stitch should be at the back of the work (the needle then gets turned around at the end of the row to bring the leading legs all to the front of the work).

 

And the purl stitch: insert the working needle towards you through the first stitch on the holder, wrap the yarn around the needle by going over the needle away from you then under the needle towards you (then over the needle away from you to get it back in place for the next stitch) (oh boy was that one hard to master!), pull the yarn through the stitch then pull the old stitch off the holder needle. Same tricks about this being the same as right handed purl and the trick about the leading leg still apply. As does the picture under this paragraph 🙂

So, now that I’ve talked about how to knit lefthanded- why? Well, for me it was originally so I could teach a lefty to knit. But I’m going to keep going with this technique- it’s fascinating to go back to being such a beginner! I had to go back to holding both needles in one hand to wrap the yarn in the beginning. I’m struggling with my purl gauge, and the idea of having to completely learn how to knit again, just because I’ve mixed my hands up is taking a bit of getting used to! However, I’ve recently been knitting so much (right handed) that my right arm is *very* unhappy with me, and learnign to knit lefthanded would be an excellent way to knit twice as much! On different projects- ooh, I wonder if my gauge left-handed will end up different to my gauge right-handed. That would be fascinating!!!! I also have this strange idea about knitting garter stitch with two colours, but one row of each colour. I’m not sure whether my idea will work, but I want to try 🙂 So many new ideas I have from doing this!

April/May goals

So, another month gone, where are they all going???? We’re a third of the way through the year already…So, let’s have a look at last month’s goals:

  1. Finish the sleeves on cockatoo brae.
    Not done- but nearly there, I think. I’ve finished all the increases, and only have a couple more inches to knit. I should measure this and work out how much more…
  2. Carry on with the wolf cross stitch (I’d like to finish but think it unlikely given that this final quarter is more complicated than the last and I only just hit 75%)
    Done! I completely blew this goal out of the water! Very happy about this 🙂
  3. Knit up and write a blog post about afterthought pockets. (I want to in the end do a series on different pockets, and I figure that an afterthought one is probably the easiest to start with…)
    Umm, nope? But I have a blog post about left-handed knitting *nearly* finished, so that should get done next month
  4. Knit another pair of the bird socks (or at least get the first one done. I’m planning on doing the socks in their pairs, so this next pair will be cardamon main colour and bluetit cuffs, heels and toes).
    Well, the first one is done, and the second one is started… Then I have another pair of socks started, and I feel like I haven’t been crafting so much this month…
  5. Bonus: start knitting something with my handspun… This one is slightly terrifying, because it’s my handspun…But I also know that knitting it will allow me to see what’s going on with the yarn a lot more clearly than just eyeballing it! Bring it on! (I reserve the right to not talk about how bad it is if it’s truely awful…)
    Yes! Although I need to frog it and restart, and that’s not going to happen for a while because I have other priorities right now, (such as more spinning).

Ok, I realised the other day that we’re also a third of the way through the year, and so I figured I should have another look at my plans for the year, and see how they are getting on.

One of the cardigans is done, the small cross stitch is done, one of the cards is done and one pair of socks are done (and I’ve mentally reduced the number from 9 to 6). That leaves:

3 cardigans, 2 blankets, a card, a large cross stitch and 4 pairs of socks. Totally doable…yeah right! I think I’ll drop the blankets, and add in a free-for-all spinning, just to remind me that it’s fun and I like it. And the pockets for the guides…

So, thinking about these yearly goals, May’s goals are:

  1. Finish the cardamon bird socks. That’s less than one sock, should be doable…
  2. Finish the cockatoo brae sleeves and start the body. This involves a blog post about sleeve length because I need some advice on it…
  3. Post the blog post about knitting left-handed. All it needs is a couple more pictures. (And finish knitting the main section of the pocket)
  4. Complete the middle square of the wedding sampler. By square I don’t mean the outside border, or the shading around it (that would be too awkward to count, and is best done with the boarder or square next to it).
  5. Spin something pretty. I bought lots of lovely goodies at Woolfest yesterday, including 4 batts. I should spin something pretty, for funsies 🙂  I wonder how thin I can go on my lil turkish drop spindle, it was pretty fine when I tried it out.
  6. Bonus: do some research for the best way to do something clever with the back shaping for Buttonbox. I think I have a good idea about the rest of it (note to self: do a blog post about it at some point…)

This might all be slightly over the top, but we shall see. I’m into the last week of teaching, but I’m still going to be busy afterwards, with teaching essays and job applications (oh my days, the job applications!)

I now have a truely ridiculous number of socks on the go now- 5 pairs. Aren’t I sensible??? (Don’t answer that). Rather than cover them all separately, I thought I’d dump them in as one entity on the blog. So, in no particular order:

1)Project bird socks. I’ve since finished the first one. I found a fairly annoying mistake in the pattern (note to self: always look up the errata on books before you start…), which will be corrected in the next sock. (These socks don’t even see the outside of the house until they’re done…no travelling)

2) Tiptoe through the tulips. These really haven’t progressed that much since you last saw them- they live at work so I work on them for precisely one lunch break a week (and of course I also eat my lunch in that hour so…) I also haven’t been working on them over the Easter break so…*shrugs* They’ll get done eventually. (These socks don’t travel). These *might* get swapped with the other waffle stitch socks I have started, I don’t think I want to do the heels at work…

 

3)Easy with-a-pattern socks. These weren’t really introduced properly- I got this yarn as a Christmas present from an ex-housemate. We meet up twice a year to buy Christmas/house birthday gifts for each other. I suggested sock yarn so I could make ‘tea socks’. We’re both incredibly British and so drink lots of tea. The pattern is called ‘Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.’, so it’s incredibly apt. I’m changing elements, but these are basically my 2017 Christmas socks. Hopefully they’ll be done by the end of May, when the housemate comes to visit for the house birthday gifts! (These socks travel)

4) Easy no pattern socks. More waffle stitch goodness, for when I’m travelling but don’t want a pattern. Lovely travelling socks 🙂 I should’ve remembered to put a spare ball of yarn in the bag for the afterthought heel, but I made do with the other end of the ball of yarn. Hopefully I’ll see the scrap yarn alright when it comes to take it out…

5) Socks for a friend. These are going to be sinple 4 rows 2 rows alternating colours. I had to get this yarn speciailly- she’s a vegan and therefore I had to get some acrylic yarn. It’s fun using this- it feels quite a lot like cotton, but has more stretchiness. My gauge doesn’t appear to have changed, whch is always a bonus! The plan for this yarn (because I could only get 50g of two different colours…) is to do 4-2 stripes, with the toe, heel and cuffs in the smaller colour. It doesn’t look all that appealing at the moment, but I’m hoping it’ll come together better when I’ve knitted more (pic done just after I started striping, so it doesn’t look the same now :P)

Naturally, the only thing to do upon finishing two things is immediately start more things! Three to be precise.

 

Firstly: more socks. See, I didn’t have a portable project, since my mother’s socks require two balls of yarn and a book for the charts. Therefore, I needed a new pair of socks, preferably ones with a basic or non-existent pattern. These socks fitted the bill, and I had a great time starting them (I’ve modified the pattern somewhat):

Secondly: my handspun stripy colourwork scarf. I decided it was time to start. And now I’ve done a bit, I need to start over, I want 27 stitches (25 for the colourwork patterns, 1 stitch either end), and I’m also thinking that I don’t want to pair the blue with the yellow… I’m also thinking that my handspun is wayyyyyy too overspun/plied, but I can’t exactly frog and respin yarn…

Thirdly (and most impressively): new cross stitch. After I finished the wolf, naturally I had to make a start on the next cross stitch on my to-do list. This currently has…not an insignificant number of hours in it. I’m currently in the ‘ooh, new start, fun’ mentality of it, and it’s lovely to stitch whilst ‘watching’ the commonwealth games, so it’s getting a lot of attention at the moment.

This new start will eventually become this:

 

As well as all this, I also finish-finished the wolf cross stitch. After two failed hunts, I found the perfect frame in TK Maxx! So yay me!

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