Since the last post, I managed to spend a few hours in the spare room/craft room (the room is split into half yarn related goodies and half my husband’s retro game collection). Firstly, the photos:
From the top, the first shot is my desk, which last week was piled high with post bags and carrier bags full of yarn – unsorted, just thrown on there. Now it holds my books on top and box that contains buttons and various sewing threads. In the space underneath, that large box now holds all my sock yarn along with some sweater quantities of fingering weight yarn. The two bags on top also contain yarn – sport weight in the yellow bag and heavy lace in the other bag. The books are books I want to sell.
The second photo is of my needle storage. No more just chucking them on shoe boxes for me! I now know where everything is. I have a handful of straight needles in the red case which I’ve kept as a ‘just in case’ fall back. I can’t remember the last time I used a straight knitting needle – it’s all circs or dpns these days. My small dpns are kept in the purple needle roll and the larger ones are in the shoe box but I rarely, if ever, use these large sizes. Where I’ve still got the packaging for the needles, I’ve kept them in that so I know what it is and the size without having to find my needle gauge.
The final photo is my drawer storage. Previously, this had held 2 drawers of laceweight and 3 drawers of fingering weight. Now, however, the laceweight yarn takes up 4 drawers (the green and white ones) and the red drawer is full of fingering weight – the yarn that isn’t suitable for socks. Nothing is packed too tightly any more.
I also organised the blue box I used for yarn, which I didn’t photograph this time round, and that is full of my DK and worsted/aran/heavier weight yarn.
I also spent some time going through my Ravelry stash pages marking where everything is stored and making sure I have photos for everything.
What did I learn from this? Firstly, my yarn was organised, it’s just that I hadn’t bothered to keep that organisation going. Right now, there is not much space for new yarn unless it’s sock yarn. This isn’t great considering Woolfest is in 10 days time and I have a nice amount saved in order to help small businesses. I clearly need to get knitting quicker.
Secondly, I have so much lovely yarn! This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, I bought the yarn after all, so it should be a stash that I love. But I am terrible at using my stash. Partly this is because I’ve got rather into tops and cardigans this year which has necessitated buying more yarn because I don’t have enough of any one colour/yarn to make a top. But I have some lovely skeins that I have earmarked for projects on Ravelry and they have just dropped off my radar.
After spending some time tidying and admiring my yarn, I had an overwhelming urge to cast on all the things at once. Given that I have 5 WIPs at the moment (a small number by many standards but big enough for me to feel that none of them are progressing because I can’t work on them enough to get anywhere) and 2 more skeins wound and ready to cast on, casting on more would be crazy. But it’s so lovely, and it’s just sat there unused right now.
In other stash-related news, I’m also taking part in the Knit Girllls Stash Dash with the goal of knitting 5k of yarn by August 7th. I’m at 840.8m at the moment, which is pretty low but I have 2 pairs of socks and a laceweight cardigan currently on the needles which will add around 1600m to my total. You can also use WIPs started before Stash Dash so if I can face threading more beads and finish my Shipwreck shawl, that will also help.
This summer is all about the stash. I have a stash; it’s an ever increasing one, despite how much knitting I can get done each month, and I feel no guilt over this. I earn the money, our family does not go without whilst I revel in fabulous yarns, and better yarn than excessive alcohol, chocolate or anything else. I used to have a book buying habit but that has decreased as my stash has increased. I still buy books, I just don’t go out of my way to find them any more.
But I have a stash and it lives in our spare room. I regularly add new yarns to my Ravelry page and I mostly remember to get a photo of the yarn so I can upload it. I love having my stash listed on Ravelry – it helps me remember what I have and remember to use it. I regularly browse my stash online and imagine the possibilities for my yarn.
However, whilst it might be neatly organised online, in real life, it looks a lot more chaotic:
This is the current state of my stash. I have some organisation – the Trofast from Ikea stores my fingering and lace weight yarns and the blue box in the first photo stores the rest. However, I am very, very guilty of photographing the yarn and then just putting it into the spare room rather than putting it away properly so I now have piles and piles of bags and parcels containing yarn and I don’t know where anything really is any more.
Enter the Must Stash Podcast which I’ve recently discovered and love watching. June is entitled Flash Your Stash and we are organising our stash however we need to. For some this means getting it put into Ravelry, for others, such as myself, it’s organising the storage.
So here are my goals for Flash Your Stash:
1 – Re-organise the storage and note on the stash page where everything is so I can find it.
2 – Photo the few remaining skeins that aren’t already done and get them onto Ravelry.
3 – Be properly ruthless with what I have and see if there’s anything that can be sold.
4 – Needle storage. They are basically thrown in a shoe box right now and I can never find anything. I need a better system.
I hope to blog about this over the next month as I spend some time rediscovering the stash and wrangling it into a much better storage system.
In the meantime, these are some of the finished objects from the last couple of months:
On the needles
It’s all about little projects or spending time on the Shipwreck shawl at the moment as we’re going away in a couple of weeks and I don’t want to start anything big or take something too big away with me. In that vein, I cast on some DK weight socks last night in some Mirasol Hacho that has been sat in my stash for far too long. I’m just working a plain toe up sock until I run out of yarn – I might add a stitch pattern to the leg but it depends on my mood when I get to that bit.
Off the needles
I have quite a lot of pictures this time of things I’ve been working on since my last post.
First up is my Flare jumper, designed by the very talented Veera Valimaki and knit in Posh Yarn Natasha sock which is a camel/silk blend that is so soft and so luxurious that I just love wearing this. This was my unofficial Ravellenics project – unofficial because I didn’t cast on until a week into the Games. I did, however, finish it in under 16 days so I’m pretty proud of that achievement.
I also finished another top for me which is the Watershed cardigan, designed by Amy Swenson and knit in more Posh Yarn, this time Caitlin Aran. This was a quick knit that I plan to take on holiday to wear over dresses and strappy tops in the evening. The only modification I made to the pattern was changing the way the decrease was worked and adding the sleeves.
I also got two pairs of socks off the needles – my Circle socks in Zitron Trekking XXL and the Juugatsu socks in Ring-a-Rosie Handpainted yarn. This year is definitely turning into a year of socks and tops.
But it wasn’t all knitting for me, I also finished this top for Zoe which is Kismet and I knit it in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply (the black stripes) and Artisan Telfi (the pink stripes). She loves it.
It just fell into my bag
There’s not actually much to show this time. I got a couple of club yarns in the post, which I haven’t managed to photograph yet, and the other yarn I’ve ordered has yet to arrive. I did buy a couple of project bags from AmeliaXJoy on Etsy which are beautiful and a good size for a pair of socks in progress. I also bought some wooden stitch markers from here, which are beautiful and there were two packs of free wooden buttons included in the order as well both of which are lovely and I look forward to finding the perfect garment to put them on.
I have also been buying a few non-knitting-related things, including some cook books by Nigel Slater and Mary Berry as well as some fiction.
Where’s my bookmark?
I’ve read some good books recently, including Caleb Carr’s The Alienist which I loved. Right now, I’m reading Helen Dunmore’s Your Blue-eyed Boy and I’m not entirely convinced I’m going to finish it. I picked it up because I remember reading a passage of Dunmore’s writing when I did my English A-level (which feels like a lifetime and a half ago now) and liking it so the name stuck (along with Bruce Chatwin, although I’ve yet to read anything by him either). However, I’m finding the story a little slow and I do tend to have the attitude these days that I have so many books I really want to read that I won’t waste a lot of time reading one that I’m a bit meh about.
What I’m watching
As well as my usual knitting podcasts, my husband and I have downloaded The Wire box set and are steadily working our way through season one right now. We’re also enjoying the new season of The Walking Dead and The Musketeers which is showing on the BBC right now. I do love my American dramas though so I’m also currently addicted to The Following and Bones. We very rarely watch TV live any more – we are far more likely to record it and watch it later on which means we’re usually at least an episode behind everyone else!
We’re currently preparing for our trip to South Africa next month to stay with the in-laws for 2 weeks. I’m really looking forward to a few days in Cape Town and hopefully getting the chance to go to Robben Island as well as taking the girls up Table Mountain. I’m also looking forward to some warmer weather as the strong winds we’ve been experiencing this last week are draining. And of course, I’m already plotting which projects I’ll be taking away with me – I have at least 3 pairs of socks planned and probably a shawl as well. I always end up taking too much with me but I’d rather have too much knitting than suddenly run out before our long flights home!
I’ve been really busy the last month but it’s nothing I can show here which does not make interesting blogging. I finished Anniken’s baby shawl and have only today posted a lace shawl to her as well. I also completed the jumper for Anna by the end of January. All three have provided a challenge for me in some small way and it got me thinking about how sample knitting has helped my knitting generally.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve found the idea of sample knitting more and more desirable. I work from home which means I have the time to do it and I’m a fairly quick knitter which definitely helps with tight deadlines but I had no idea how to really get into it. I started by test knitting on Ravelry; there are forums there purely to get designers and willing test knitters together and I started here by offering to test knit patterns that I liked or had the yarn for. It meant that I could use up some yarn and try a new pattern before others. I’ve since used these same forums to find test knitters for my own designs and have, so far, had a really good experience as both tester and designer.
I started working for Anniken last year when she tweeted that she was looking for sample knitters. Anniken Allis is one my favourite designers – her lace shawls are beautiful and I have loved knitting them so when she asked for sample knitters I jumped at the chance. What’s not to like here? I knit a design I know I’ll like in a yarn I might not have tried before and I get paid to do it.
Of course, it’s not always as straightforward as that. The pattern, whilst looking great, is unedited and may have mistakes which require clarification. I can’t just rely on what I think the designer might be trying to do, I need the designer to tell me that just so I don’t spend hours knitting something that is wrong.
When I do knit, it has to be perfect as well. With my own things, I will often let a wrong stitch remain if it doesn’t affect the overall look. In lace, this is less likely because mistakes in lace show a lot more readily but if I’m decreasing on a sweater and do a right leaning increase instead of a left leaning increase then on my own sweater, I’ll let it go. If it’s a sample, then I have to correct it, either by ripping back to the mistake or dropping the stitch down a couple of rows and pulling it back up the correct way. Sample knitting has taught me a lot about fixing mistakes!
I love sample knitting but it does take me away from my own stash and, to be honest, I’m unlikely to get rich quickly, or at all, by doing it. But the experience it has given me and the way it has improved my own knitting has definitely been worth it. These are just some of the samples that I’ve knit and it’s quite satisfying to see them online and in magazines and know that I knit it: Marazion, Sam Cable Scarf
On the needles
But it’s not all been sample knitting, I’ve managed to get a few other things cast on as well. I currently have two pairs of socks on the needles: Circle socks by Anne Campbell in Zitron Treking XXL. I love the colour of this, it’s like a dark, muted rainbow and my pictures just don’t do it justice. I finished the first sock about 2 weeks ago but have been too distracted by other things to get the second one cast on. I used the OMG Heel by Megan Williams for the first time which I really liked and fits nicely.
The second pair of socks are Juugatsu by Claudia Eisenkolb in Ring-a-Rosie Handpainted yarn, which I’m knitting as part of a Ring-a-Rosie sock yarn knit a long. I’ve only done about half of the cabling detail on the first leg but I know once I get back into them, they’ll fly. I plan on trying the Fish Lips Kiss heel on these socks, which I’ve seen being raved about on many blogs and podcasts.
I also cast on and am almost done with the Kismet top by Sara Gresbach for Zoe. This is being worked in some pink Artisan Yarns Telfi and two black yarns – Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and Violet Green Supersock. The pink has been sitting in my stash since Woolfest in June 2012 and I am just never going to make something that colour for me, but Zoe of course loves it so I found a few patterns and she chose Kismet and chose to pair it with black stripes. I’ve ended up using two different yarns for the black stripes simply because I had less of the Rialto 4ply than I thought and needed some extra to complete the last couple of stripes.
I still have the Shipwreck shawl on the needles – I’m now into the second skein and slowly loading it with beads before knitting. It’s slow going so it’s spending a lot of time just sat there. I also have my sock yarn blanket which is being slowly worked on. I’d still really like to have that for next winter and I think 2 squares a day should do that. Of course, I’m currently behind but I’m doing 3/4 squares a day to make it up, so fingers crossed.
Off the needles
It just fell into my bag
I’ve bought a lot of yarn recently, but have been a bit slack in getting the photos taken. I bought lots of sock yarn, including Lorna’s Laces Solemate and some new colourways of Zauberball which I love for socks. I was also lucky enough to get a gift certificate for Fibernymph Dye Works for my birthday last month and I’ll getting some self striping sock yarn from there next month at some point.
I also finally caved and bought some interchangeable needles after casting on two projects and discovering the circular needles were too long. So I bought some HiyaHiya sharps interchangeables in the small needles sizes (2.75mm – 5mm) and so far, I’m really pleased with them.
Hopefully with the sample knitting done for now, I can come back sooner with pics of lots of lovely new things for me!
On the needles
New year, new projects. I’ve cast on a couple of new things since the beginning of the month. First up, my Lavender socks. The pattern is taken from Stephanie Van Der Linden’s Around the world in knitted socks book which I got back in 2012 and these are being knitted in Ripples Craft British Falkland Merino & Nylon sock yarn in the lavender colourway (appropriately!) I’ve finished one sock already but they’re now taking a back seat while I try and get some other things finished.
Second up are the Tideland mitts which I’m making for a friend who was admiring my fingerless mitts last month. I’m knitting these in more Ripples Craft yarn, BFL superwash this time in the ice cream colourway, which is a cream/undyed colour. First mitt is already completed and the second one should be done later today.
I’m also still working on my Shipwreck shawl – I’m now onto the beaded section so spent some time one afternoon threading beads onto yarn which is, to be honest, mind numbing but it does look better on the shawl rather than using the crochet hook method to add the beads. I’ve only done a couple of rounds as they’re now 500+ stitches per round so it takes a while. But it is fairly mindless knitting so it’s great for when my brain is fried.
Finally, I have two other projects on the needles that I can’t share pics of – a sample baby blanket for Anniken Allis and a fairly straightfoward jumper with some cabling that I’m working for another knitter, Anna. These are both paid pieces of work so as deadlines approach, they are obviously getting most of my time. This means my selfish knitting that I had planned (a Posh Yarn sweater and possibly a shawl) are on the backburner for another week or so.
Off the needles
Nothing yet, but hopefully it won’t be long. I do however, have a couple of photos of my Mereweather vest from after Christmas:
I’m really happy with this, although at the moment, the yarn is a little itchy so I’ve been mostly wearing it over long sleeved tops. I’m hoping it’ll soften up with a few washes.
It just fell into my bag
My Posh Yarn arrived from the end of December, which was part of my Strictly sweepstake winnings:
I also treated myself to some skeins from the Fyberspates New Year sale. This is some Scrumptious DK which is a merino/silk blend. The colour is a bit more golden than the pic shows:
I also got some sock yarn; one in a pale greyish colour and the second is a variegated and was from the lucky dip section:
And finally, this gorgeous silk lace which was also from the Lucky dip section:
I have no plans for any of the Fyberspates yarns yet beyond definitely socks with the sock yarn and possibly fingerless gloves for the DK weight. I am loving fingerless mitts at the moment because I dislike driving in full gloves but always get cold hands whilst the car warms up.
For next week, there will be a lot of sock yarn, some of which was bought with the remaining sweepstake money.
Where’s my bookmark?
I’ve started a readalong this year for Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. It’s 12 books in total, although so far I have the first 6 in 2 volumes of three. I plan to read one book each month so finished A Question of Upbringing last week. I’m not sure yet – it was ok but didn’t grab my attention so it’s probably a good job I’m doing the readalong with Heavenali as that will keep me going. Right now, I’m reading Pat Barker’s Border Crossing which I’m finding more engaging – although part of that could be because it’s set in Newcastle and I love reading books set in places I know very well.
On the needles
I’m always struck with a bit of an overwhelming urge to start each year afresh, or as close to afresh as I can make it. Once Christmas gifts are out of the way, I start to feel selfish with my knitting, wanting to cast on all the things for me, but quite often, I spend the time working on projects that I put down in early December and would like to get finished. Because of this, I only really have two things on the needles as the year ends: my Sock Yarn Blanket which I’ve not worked on at all this month because of gift knitting and my Shipwreck shawl which is what I’m currently working on, making slow but steady progress. For the shawl, I’m on the final lace work section (section six) before I begin what will no doubt seem neverending k2tog, yarnover section, although hopefully the beading will help make it seem slightly quicker.
Off the needles
I finished all my gifts in time for Christmas – firstly, Zoe’s socks:
She loves these – and her slippers – and can be seen wearing them every morning when she gets out of bed, and sometimes even in bed if her feet are very cold. This is a stark contrast to Eloise, who likes the idea of the socks and slippers but has so far only worn them on Christmas Day morning.
I also finished Duncan’s socks:
These have also been a success.
I can also now show a quick pic of my Owls jumper by Kate Davies as it has now found it’s new home at my sister’s house:
Also off the needles, but not yet photographed is my Mereweather vest by Sharon Boswell. I worked on this over Christmas, in Posh Yarn Harriet DK, which was lovely and soft to work with. I was initially disappointed with the top, partly because of my own mistake (I think) – I made the straps far too long and it meant that the vest didn’t fit me properly across the bust. Once I fixed the straps and got it fitting properly, I decided to add some more length to it. To do this, I could have just picked up stitches along the cast on edge at the bottom and carried on working down but I worried that if I wasn’t perfect with this, the line created would be quite visible. Consequently, I decided to unpick the cast on (which took a good 2/3 hours) and then knit down. This means that to the non-knitter or a not-too-close knitter, it looks like it was knit in one piece. I can see where the join is if I look up close but it’s fine. It also means it’s wearable now and shall be getting an outing soon.
It just fell into my bag
I got lucky this year and won the Strictly Sweepstake for the 2nd time in 3 years in a group on Ravelry, which has meant a fair chunk of money being sent my way for spending on yarn. So far, I’ve spent about two thirds of it – firstly on a 3 month subscription to YarnAddict’s Lace Lovers Yarn club and secondly on some Posh Yarn that will be arriving next week.
However, before Christmas, I picked up a bit of extra work and so treated myself to a couple of things – at some point, I may admit that I have a yarn addiction, but don’t expect that any time soon 😉
First up, YarnAddict Anniken Allis has stopped producing hand dyed yarn and so was selling off her remaining stock, so I bought some Merino Plus sock yarn:
I also bought some undyed wool/silk 4ply yarn from her, not sure about plans for this yet.
I then got worried about the amount of yarn I needed for Duncan’s socks so bought an extra skein of the Exmoor Blueface – which it turns out I didn’t need, but will come in handy for more socks for him, or me. But with that, I also picked up:
which is Malabrigo sock yarn, a sweater’s quantity.
I also managed to bag some Twisted Limone self striping sock yarn in her update:
I’ve heard a couple of podcasters rave about this recently and I’m looking forward to trying it out and maybe one day being quick enough to get some of her 7-stripe rainbow sock yarn.
Finally, this was actually ordered and paid for back in the beginning of December, but only arrived just before Christmas: some sock yarn and some lace yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works, run by another podcast (90% Knitting) that I love.
No firm plans yet for either of them, but when has that ever stopped me buying?
What I’m stalking/end of year review
It’s the end of another year and I’m enjoying spending time on Ravelry looking at my queue, stash and new patterns and trying to think about what I want to knit in 2014. This year, I wanted to learn how to double knit and I’ve still not managed to find the time to do that, so I really should make that a target of 2014. I’m also planning a 12 sweaters/tops in 12 months, seeing as I’ve been stashing sweater quantities of yarn for a good while now.
And how did I do this year? I completed a total of 42 projects, ranging from bunting and mug hugs for school fairs to sweaters for myself and others. In total, I’ve knit 16,202.7 metres over 12 months. However, I have increased my stash from 65,256.5 metres on January 1st 2013 to 102,012.4m today. I have to be honest, numbers like that mean nothing to me, so I worked out the length in miles. On January 1st, my stash, laid down, would cover 40.54 miles; today it covers 62.46 miles. That’s a good long way! I really need to get cracking with the sweater knitting!
I’m really happy with this year though: I’ve designed a couple of new patterns, and had pattern sales which is always exciting; I now do sample knitting for one my favourite designers so I basically get paid to knit designs that I know I’ll love; and I’ve sold a few hand knitted items as well.
So, apart from wanting to knit some sweaters/tops in 2014, what else do I want? I have a few design ideas noodling around in my head which I’d really like to get down on paper, and I won’t lie, more pattern sales would be brilliant. I’m realistic enough to know that, right now in life, I don’t have the time to do anything close to full time designing, so I’m happy with a few designs a year and a modest amount of sales. I’d also like to really keep this blog going and post regularly – I think a new diary might be called for to plan out my time! (Did I mention I’m a sucker for new stationery in January?!)
I hope you all had a lovely festive season, whatever you celebrated, and that 2014 sees dreams come true for you.
On the needles
Gift knitting is still the big thing for this month. Right now, I’m down to two pairs of socks left to do – another pair of the Dainty Anklets by Wendy B Johnson for Zoe, again in the Rico Superba yarn I used for Eloise’s socks. I’m also working on Milo socks by Cookie A from her book Sock Innovation, which is a book that I really like (and should review at some point). These are both going slowly right now but that’s more because I’m trying to juggle knitting them and not knit them in front of Zoe & Duncan respectively. As I work for a lot of the time Zoe is at school, this is not as easy as I had hoped it would be.
I also cast on the Mereweather vest by Sharon Boswell in Posh Yarn Harriet DK, which is 100% wool and I have the You couldn’t possibly know colourway which is a dark blue. I had originally planned for this yarn to be made into the Tink Tank but looking at that pattern, it seems to work best in a cotton/cotton mix yarn so I’ve got something else in mind for that. I cast this on simply to have something fairly easy to work on when both Zoe & Duncan are around and I can’t gift knit.
Off the needles
I’ve got a number of gifts on and off the needles this week including the Seamless Salomas:
I know, they don’t look like slippers – which I think is why I like them, they are unusual. But once on, they look like this:
They have a bit more stretch in them but this is me wearing the slippers for Duncan so they don’t need to stretch as much for my feet. I like them, but I discovered, whilst knitting them, that I am most definitely a process knitter not a product knitter – I like to knit this to learn the process and understand how they go together but I’m really not all that fussed about making a number of the same thing. This is the first time I’ve made the same thing over and over in quick succession and I’m just thankful I did Eloise’s last because they were super quick and it meant I couldn’t dwell too long on having to knit the same thing again.
I also finished Eloise’s socks:
You almost wouldn’t believe they came from the same ball of yarn because of the difference in stripes, but they did. I must admit, I’m not ever really precious about having identical socks when it comes to self striping yarn – I don’t really have the patience to wind the ball on to find the same pattern repeat and start again. The Superb seems quite randomly striped anyway so I don’t think I could have done it for both pairs if I’d really wanted too. I like them and as the girls probably will only wear them in bed or around the house, I don’t think either of them will mind the randomness of the colours.
I released a new pattern this week as well, my Starry Socks are now available to buy on Ravelry.
They’re a great way to learn cables without a cable needle and my testers said they were fun and quick to knit.
It just fell into my basket
Like I said last week, I had a slight accident at Posh Yarns and this week, 9 new skeins arrived in the post. Now, they are gorgeous and I’m not sorry, but I really am going to have to start knitting in my sleep or something to get through some of these. First up, Caitlin Aran in After That, Quiet Affection:
Followed by Sylvia lace in The Ayes Have It:
And finally, some Marianne DK in Without A Stain On Her Character
No firm plans for the DK yet, but the lace and aran are already earmarked for projects next year.