Life With Yarn

Archive for September 2013

On the needles

I actually have a lot on the needles this week – I could definitely do with many hands to get through everything. I’m slowly working through the edging for Mandala; I’ve done 4.5 sections out of 12. It’s not got a lot of time devoted to it this week but also, weirdly, I’m not feeling much love for it right now. I am so excited about seeing how it looks and I’ve sworn not to start another circular shawl until this one is off the needles but I’m just struggling to get the edging done. It’s taking a lot longer to do each bit than I thought it would which doesn’t help.

I also cast on for Starling this week, a laceweight cardigan, which I’m going to do in Austermann Merino Lace. It is intended to be part of a teal colour knit a long and I could also enter it into a sweater/cardigan knit a long if I can finish it by the end of September. But right now I’ve done about 5 rows and it is way down the list of projects.

The lack of love for my own knitting is because I’m doing two different samples for two designers. First up I’m working on a number of colourwork swatches for a designer which are due to be returned later this week. At the same time, I’m working on a shawl sample for a favourite designer of mine, Anniken Allis. Obviously I can’t show pics or discuss either of these pieces in detail, but they are getting my time this week. I love sample knitting – being paid to do something I’d be doing anyway is great and fulfills my yarn needs but this week has been a bit crazy because I underestimated how long the colourwork bits would take. But it’s all good and everything will be completed on time and then it’s all about finishing Mandala and cracking on with the cardigan.

Due to the sample knitting, I’ve not finished anything else or been spinning or buying anything new this week so I have no goodies to share this time.

Where’s my bookmark?

I finished David Mitchell’s Back Story last weekend and really loved it. Like I said last week, I find him a really funny person and I just loved the insight gained from this book. Right now, I’m reading Seven Seasons of Buffy which is a collection of essays about the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved this series when it was shown on TV and have a number of similar titles exploring the culture, philosophy and underlying themes to the series. It’s a really interesting collection of essays by a wide variety of people who have studied Buffy or were just huge fans. It kind of makes me want to watch it all over again – or at least my favourite episodes.

Family Life

Zoe started back at school this week and today celebrates her 7th birthday. I really can’t believe she is 7 already. She is no longer my little girl but is growing up so fast. We took her and 6 friends out for food last night which was a big success and she’s had a lovely day today, both at school and at home. I’m always surprised after the six week holiday how easily we slip back into the school day routine but it’s all be so far, so good. Eloise is now even more excited to be starting nursery/pre-school next Monday morning as well – I just hope they are ready for her!



As I said last time, I bought this book and it arrived a few days ago and I have managed to find time to have a look at it and attempt a review.

A Gathering of Lace, edited by Meg Swansen, was published by XRX in 2000 – my copy is the 4th printing from 2005 – and is available on Amazon UK for £21.99.

The book contains 39 patterns from a wide variety of designers including Swansen herself, Nancy Bush & Norah Gaughan. There are a few pages explaining techniques, including a section at the back with diagrams to show how to do certain stitches. At the back of the book there are bios of all the designers as well as the story of the photoshoot for the book, which I enjoyed reading.

The 39 patterns are split into 5 sections: simplicity, traditions, points of departure, garments and little lace. There are some truly eye catching pieces – I particularly loved the Shetland lace shawl and the Faroese shawl both for the stitches and the history behind these traditions. There are also some lovely garments such as the Rose Leaves Tunic and the Sampler tabard which are definitely going in my Ravelry queue. Even the patterns I can’t see me knitting I appreciate for their technique and beauty. I love the Shetland Baby Robe and it makes me sad I don’t have any more babies to make it for but maybe there’ll be grandchildren one day.

I wouldn’t say this was a beginner’s book, you need to have some basic experience of knitting, particularly picking up stitches and provisional or invisible cast ons which are used a lot to minimise binding off stitches. I consider myself an intermediate lace knitter heading towards experienced and there are still things in here that I think would challenge me or that are techniques I’ve not tried yet.

Overall, I really like the book and I think it’s a great edition to my knitting library. There are definitely patterns I’d like to knit at some point but even with those that aren’t my sort of thing I can still appreciate the work and beauty in them. I think even if I didn’t want to knit any of the patterns I’d still want to keep this book for the photography and the traditions behind many of the pieces.


On the needles

I’ve been working almost exclusively on my Mandala shawl this week. I finally reached the end of chart 4 yesterday and I’m now working on the edging. It’s not exactly speedy but I’m hoping that it’ll be ready to block in the next couple of weeks. I’m quite looking forward to seeing how it opens up when blocked and how it all looks. I’ve got nothing else planned for the moment because I got a parcel of yarn on Saturday to do some colour work swatches for a designer, for which I’m being paid, so most of September will be taken up with those and a couple of sweaters – one a sample and one commission.

Off the needles

Just the one finished object this week – the Nina top for Eloise. I made a larger size so it’s sort of dress length at the moment because Eloise is quite small. It’ll look good with a pair of leggings over the coming months. She loves it, mainly because it is pink.




For the first time in about 6 months, I picked up my drop spindle this week. When at Woolfest in June I bought a small bag of merino fibre – 100g in 5 different colours – and figured I could get some practice in using this rather than the lovely fibre I’ve been gifted or bought in the last few months. I’m still very much a beginner but I did enjoy having a go again. I spent about an hour doing it and almost finished spinning up the first 20g sample. It’s certainly not of a quality where I could spin enough for even a small sized project right now; there’s some consistency in thickness but there are definitely places where it’s a bit too thick and if I plied it together then it’d be thick overall, but I think a single ply (strand) is probably about sock yarn weight (judging from looking rather than wpi or measuring right now) so if that’s right I can incorporate it into the sock yarn blanket.

I know that what I need to do is sit down for some time every day or every couple of days to improve but, unlike knitting, I find spinning with children around tricky. With knitting, I can pick up and put down with a high degree of confidence that I’ll know where I am when I come back to it, but with spinning, putting it down to attend to the children throws out my (minimal) rhythm. At some point in the (distant) future I’d like to be able to have a proper spinning wheel but that would definitely require a lot more time.


I’ve had a nice amount of yarn arriving at the house this week – my ColourMart yarn from ebay arrived and looks lovely, I just need to find the perfect pattern for it. Then Ripples Crafts tweeted a pic of their Christmas-themed yarn for 2013 and I decided to buy some:



It’ll be totally perfect for a Christmas sock themed knit a long I plan on taking part in later in the yarn. Whilst on the Ripples Craft site, three other skeins also fell into my shopping basket. No idea what I’ll do with them yet – the cream and teal colours scream colourwork at me – fair isle socks or a hat maybe, and the dark blue might possibly be the second colour in this Starlight shawl that I’m planning to make (the first being a grey/silvery colour)



Where’s my bookmark?

I’m currently loving David Mitchell’s Back Story. I think he’s a really funny guy and although I missed Peep Show the first time round, I’m now working my way through the first series. I also bought A Gathering of Lace by Meg Swansen which arrived this week. I’ve not had a chance to do more than flick through it yet, but I shall try and be organised enough to put a review up in the next couple of weeks. I may also go through the knitting books I currently own and see about some reviews for those.

Family Life

We got our bunk beds this week, so the girls are happy and sleeping in proper beds for the first time in a month. Tomorrow, Zoe goes back to school, starting in Year 2, and I shall miss her company during the day. Another 2 weeks and then Eloise starts in nursery/pre-school, which seems entirely too soon on the one hand and entirely overdue on the other. She’s very excited about it, has loved buying her uniform and can’t wait to wear it. In the meantime, I am about halfway through the mountain of labelling I need to do.

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