Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March in Review

Another month flies past…  with extra daylight hours at last!
My latest socks
Knitting was the highlight of my month:  I finished my Kex blanket and my Arne and Carlos socks, and am well on my way with another pair of plain vanillas (above), this time using up leftovers.
I have decided to work the feet in a semi-solid hand-dye, finishing them off with Regia toes, as this was the only way the yarn would stretch to a mostly-matching pair.
I have also been working solidly on another test-knit for Josh Ryks.  This one is a 3-colour shawl that is going to be released as a Mystery Knitalong – ooh!  Shiny!
I don’t get paid for test-knitting, in case you were wondering. 
I do it for fun and the excitement of supporting an up-and-coming young designer.
For obvious reasons, I can’t show you any pictures of this one.

Have a 1980's dance instead:

Sewing Clothes
Buying Clothes
Buying yarn / fabric / patterns
I saved my not-spent-on-coffee money for my trip to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and bought the wool for a cardigan and a shawl.  Since then I have bought needles to start the cardigan but was distracted by my test-knit.
Unlikely treasure :)
In pattern acquisition news, my regular ebay search for a long-lost pattern book came up trumps.
I sent my original copy to landfill at least 12 years ago.
It was falling apart and I didn’t think I would miss it.
Ever since taking up knitting again in 2005, I have hankered after a sweater I knitted during my Finals in 1985.
Sweater of dreams - the angle is not doing it justice!
I even tried to recreate the pattern from memory, but failed. 
This is 3 Suisses 111, Junior Designs, aimed at teenagers in the 1980s.
The nostalgia!
I can really see myself knitting and wearing these simple boxy garments for everyday wear around the farm.  I might reduce the sleeve width… but then again I might not.
I remember how comfortable these jumpers were.  I had several of them:  a colour block cardigan (below), my favourite jumper with the Irish Rib panel (above), a mohair sweater-dress in green and black (the red and black one above), and two sleeveless popover vests in the lightest fluffiest, warmest acrylic mix yarn you will ever find ;)
I am still reading Women in Clothes.  I have written my response to it, which I will post soon.
Every time I pick this book up it gives me something new to think about.

Myeloma Update
Another prescription of Pomalidomide! 
FL has now been taking the wonder-drug for a year.
His latest Freelite score was 112.4.  The month before it was 112.  There is that niggling fear that he might be coming off the plateau, but the doctor was keen to say that 0.4 is not a significant increase.
How is he?  A little more stooped.  (No, not "stoopid"!)
Tired.  He gets a lot of leg cramps and coughing fits when he tries to lie down, so our nights are disturbed.
But really?  He's doing far better than I ever imagined, so far into what felt like the unimaginable future.
We are pretty happy!
I made this exact cardigan in 1987
Life Decisions
I have "an opportunity" to give up my current job.  I am considering it carefully.  It would allow me to pay off the mortgage and spend more time with FL.  I have been practicing frugality to see if we could live on a drastically reduced income... and concluded that of course we could, despite the electricity bill.
But I don't want to leave myself without a focus for my life beyond "looking after FL".
So for the time being I am just thinking.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Sockish FO and Work in Progress

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on the completion of my Kex blanket!
It is still on the sofa beside me, ready for use, but is back in its sealed knitting bag, after a sudden flurry of moths in the vicinity... noooo!

It is just as well I made this bag to lug it around during the knitting process.  Made out of a cushion cover, it looks perfectly at home on the sofa, stuffed with the blanket!

My recent train journey to Edinburgh provided a boost to my latest sock project, using Arne and Carlos yarn from Regia (colour 3657).
I finished the second sock on the way home - woo hoo!
There is not a lot to say about this project:  simple "Vanilla with Sprinkles" socks using the Retro Lemon Studio pattern (free on Ravelry), with a 60 stitch cast-on.

I took care to match the stripes, but was intrigued to find that one sock has a row of red-on-white skaters where the other has red-on-white skiers!
Or is it just my eyesight?

I have a fair chunk of yarn leftover, so hope to squeeze out another pair, with contrasting heels, toes and cuffs.
To prove that it can be done, I have started a pair using my other leftover Regia Colorations yarn and some ancient Curious Yarn in the colour Neptune.

Before I cast these on, there was a moment when the only thing I had left on the needles was my Monte Rosa Cardigan.
Who remembers that one?!
I don't really know why I stopped working on it.  I was nearing the end of the first skein, had divided for the armholes and then... stopped.
I have no idea where I put the pattern with my working notes on it.

So you won't be surprised to hear that I am not working on Monte Rosa right now.
Nor have I cast on my lovely new green Gotland wool from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Instead... I am up to my ears in another test knit for Josh :)

It is a Big Secret, so all I can show you is the wool I am using:  Marchmont fingering weight merino from Natalie at the Yarn Yard (website down).

The colours are Beetroot, Legbar and Waverley.
It is looking amazing!
But that's all I can tell you - sorry! ;)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

FO: Kex Blanket by WestKnits

Two years, one month and one day in the making:  here at last is my completed Kex Blanket.

It is a WestKnits pattern by Stephen West, from the 2013 Westy's Besties Knitalong.

I looked back to my original inspiration for this blanket and it still holds true.

I wanted to knit a comfort blanket, a piece of knitting to keep and use forever.

I gathered the yarn together from other Ravellers' destashes, from ebay and from end-of-line sales.

There are 18 balls of Rowan Scottish Aran Tweed and Rowan Harris Aran Tweed in here.

I dread to think what it would have cost if the yarn had not been discontinued by the time I came to seek it out.

It was still a major investment, of both time and money.

But one I do not regret.

Not even a little bit.

The colour scheme evolved according to the yarn I was able to source.

The Heather border is echoed in the horizontal stripes, bringing coherence to what could have been a mad tartan-esque riot of mismatchiness.

It measures 1.7 metres by 1.9 metres and weighs 1.8 kilos - wow!  

It has travelled with FL and I on holidays to Ullapool and the Isle of Skye.

And it has kept me warm through three winters already, draped over my knees as I worked on it.

I was about to write that I would miss my blanket now that it is done... but that's crazy, because it's only now that we can make full use of it, without the danger of dropped stitches or being impaled on a needle.

It has taken up residence on the sofa, to be enjoyed as an everyday woolly luxury.
The only problem is going to be deciding whose turn it is to use it, FL or me.
We will just have to cuddle up :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2015

Yesterday I took the train south, where I met my mother and Christine for an outing to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
Did I meet you there?  Hello again if I did!
I failed to take many photographs because I always feel the need to get permission from the people in them. That's pretty hard in a crowd!

But here is the lovely Cath, winding my new yarn in aid of the Teapot Trust.

I was far too shy to walk up to Stephen West and show him the shawl I test-knitted for Josh Ryks (because they do know each other - not just because I am a total sycophant!)
I smirked at Rachel Coopey, but didn't have the nerve to flash my socks!
I didn't spot Ysolda, but I know she was there.

However, I did go up to a total stranger and admire her scarf:  "Hello!  Is that a Ketch?"
Um, no, it's a Clincher.
"Oh, I knew it began with a K!"
Only when I got home and checked Ravelry for the pattern, did the full extent of my failure strike home!  LOL
So, despite my social awkwardness, it was a good day.

I set myself a budget, and stuck to it.  The whole day was not to cost more than I had saved by not buying shop coffee so far this year.  Bargain!
So what did I purchase?

Well, I was sorely tempted by Socks That Rock and Cyborg's Craftroom yarn for sale at La Maison Tricotee.  But my mother's horror at the price of American hand-dyes brought me down to earth.
So I stuck to my shopping list, and looked for something sheepy for a cardigan and something natural for a shawl.  I tried to buy some spinning fibre but nothing was quite right.  I was surprised how little fibre was for sale.

This is Gotlandsk Pelsuld by Filcolana, which I bought from Midwinter Yarns.
Gotlandsk Pelsuld
Oh my days, the colours of this yarn are heart-stoppingly lovely!
I could have filled a wheelbarrow with this stuff!
The red, the pink, the grey/blue. the mustard, the purple...?
In the end it was this rich grassy green that called the loudest.
It is definitely not next-to-skin soft, but I know it will bloom beautifully when washed.
I knit my Seraphine out of Gotland wool and I love it - it lives on the sofa for everyday use.
I plan to knit an Erte cardigan with this.
Erte Cardigan
And for a Fossil and Bone shawl. I chose some North Ronaldsay aran weight (picture higher up).
I wish I knew which stall I bought this from.
They were also selling Madeleine Tosh... but fortunately I didn't see that before I had spent my budget!
Fossil and Bone shawl
I had been worried about leaving FL home alone on a dexy-downer day, but he was kept entertained by the farmer and the gamekeeper coming round to remove my son's woodworm-ridden wardrobe, for incineration in the field.

I didn't tell you the story of how FL and I tried to get it downstairs on our own...?
Let's just say there is now a hole in the wall of the stairwell, and it involved me holding on to FL's legs as he tried to squeeze past the stuck wardrobe after its rapid downward descent...!
Never a dull moment ;)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mother's Day Crochet Treats

I put together a little gift bag of treats for Grandma for Mother's Day..
This is the medium-sized Market Bag from Inside Crochet Issue 59
The flower pattern came from the same issue of the magazine.
For some unknown reason, my stitch count was out when I reached the handle placement so I had to do some maths, but it turned out to be simple enough.
I also rustled up a crochet washcloth for Grandma to use in her new shower-room.
This is a pattern by Rachel Atkinson from Issue 62 of Inside Crochet.
Grandma probably won't know what this is meant to be - but hopefully the accompanying shower gel will give her a clue.
Crochet washcloths are definitely not common in Scottish bathrooms!
Both projects used leftover Rico Creative Cotton Aran from my Mystery Blanket.
It feels good to crochet again.

And it was a welcome respite from the apparently endless garter stitch border of my Kex blanket!

In other knitting news, I decided to rip out my Argent Curl.
It was looking far too tweedy and old-lady-ish.
And the speed of increases was producing something much longer and thinner than either of my previous Curls.
I love the yarn, so hope to re-purpose it soon :)

Sunday, March 08, 2015


If you want to analyse your wardrobe, take a look at your washing line.
Because whatever is out there is what you actually wear.

So this week, I can tell you I wore:

2 Camber dresses, over a Me & Em vest
My Seasalt denim dress, over a Brora long-sleeved tee (both ebay)
A Howies shirt (sale bargain)
2 Seasalt long-sleeved tees (one ancient)
Howies jeans (ancient)
Me-made knickers (5 pairs in advanced state of disrepair)
My Peggy Skirt and a Boden cardigan (neither washed this week)

So all this crap I talk about sewing my own wardrobe is largely bluster.
"Shopping?  Oh no, not me - I don't buy clothes!" I trill to anyone who will listen.  Ugh.

No, I don't buy clothes very often... but neither do I seem to wear the bulk of what I sew.
Which is why I have stopped sewing.
Because I fail to see the point of filling the wardrobe with cotton tops and dresses that I seldom wear.
Sewing is fun... but only if I enjoy and use the things I make!

At the same time I am truly bored of wearing the same few things week after week.
So it is probably only a matter of time before I crack and sew myself a pair of culottes, a couple of long swoopy skirts and a pile of new knickers.

See?!  There is life in the old dog yet!

And in FL's favourite sweater!

So today I am knitting away on the border of my Kex blanket.
And drinking Hot Cross Bun tea.
Later on I am going to do some spinning on my Turkish spindle - yay!

I will continue reading Women in Clothes, which might help me get over myself.

I have certainly been feeling quite inspired reading the Craft Sessions blog and this post over on the Fringe Association blog, though you won't catch me in a sleeveless top for at least another 4 months, even with a cardigan.  Brrr!

Let me end on an undeniably happy note:  my first Arne and Carlos sock is finished - woo hoo!
Love it!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

February in Review

Historically, February is the month when I lose courage in my own convictions, find myself close to tears for no good reason, and am likely to spend at least one day fast asleep.  This February was pretty stressful, but I managed to stay well and did not do anything really* stupid - result!
New yarn from FO and Dye on Etsy
I kept to my pledge not to buy shop coffee (that's two whole months!  £100 saved!)
But... I bought 4 second-hand books, 4 skeins of yarn, a project bag and 4 fat quarters of fabric.
I decided not to renew my subscription to Knit Now magazine, and am considering replacing it with Inside Crochet which excites me far more, even though I have not done any crochet recently.

Finished Neon Monkey socks
I did some tentative sewing, which made me feel like sewing is something I might do again.

Finished Puerperium baby cardi
Knitting occupied my hands and my thoughts for a large part of the month, and I finished 2 shawls, a baby cardigan and a pair of socks.  One of those shawls was a test knit - yay!

New project:  Argent Curl
I read less this month than in January.  A History of Rain and The Interestings are the only library books I spent significant time with and neither is finished.  No audiobook this month, which was a definite gap in my life.  However, just yesterday I started reading Women in Clothes and I am hooked.  It is the outcome of a survey of hundreds of women from many nationalities and backgrounds about their relationship with clothes.  It is absolutely fascinating,  I am only 50 pages into the 514 pages, but it possible that I will spend today reading this and doing nothing else... well, except knitting.  A day can't go by without my knitting.

New project:  Regia Arne and Carlos socks
Myeloma news
In Myeloma news, FL is still doing well on Pomalidomide.  If I hold my breath much longer I will faint.  I really need to try to relax about his health.  He is coming to the conclusion that he might not be safe on the roads any more... but without the car he is stranded on the farm.
Which leads to the thought that I may not be able to continue to work full time, or we might have to move, or both.  And none of this can be resolved easily or quickly.

*So I cut my hair, dyed my fringe lilac and went "lalala" like any sensible person would.

 Typical February behaviour ;)

PS I kept one side as a bob... so as long as I stay on the right side of the boss... ie his left side, all will be well!  Heheheh.